The world of optical design is populated with frames inspired by artists, writers, musicians, actors and other cultural icons. Michael Caine, Jackie O, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, Superman… All names synonymous with a certain kind of spectacle. When EB Meyrowitz, revered opticians of Mayfair’s Royal Arcade, decided to revive the tradition of founder Emil Bruno Meyrowitz by creating a strictly limited run of 12 pieces of a certain design, they looked to novelist Thomas Hardy for inspiration for their first dozen pairs. Hence: the Hardy.
Rather than taking inspiration from Hardy’s face (he was famed for his moustache, but didn’t wear glasses), they turned to the work itself – looking at certain aspects of Victorian architecture (Hardy trained as an architect), such as the Natural History Museum, with its sweeping curves that sit next to rigid contours. The result is an elegant, studious-looking style of specs (examples first and third pictures), with four sets in three different colours: deep mahogany (fourth picture), azure stone and a neutral, soft, citrus-tinged pale cashmere (second picture).
EB Meyrowitz glasses are customarily handcrafted from cotton acetates, buffalo horn and tortoiseshell. In keeping with the 19th-century influences, The Hardy is made in buffalo horn, in colourways and mottles that were prevalent during the era. The azure stone frames take things a step further – blue was one of the first, and most popular, colours used when colour was introduced into the creation of optical frames. The look of the Hardy harks back to a significant wave of innovation in frame technology – advances allowed for new shapes that were a huge leap on from the simple ovular metallic frames that were the norm. The modern frame was taking shape.
The 12 pieces, priced from £2,500 each, go on sale on Monday at the Royal Arcade store. The Hardy is the first in a series of limited-edition frames inspired by literary history – designs inspired by Byron and Shelley are rumoured to be in development.