[Oliver Goldsmith] During the 50s, which was known as the austere years after the war, it was very hard to get people to spend a lot of money on glasses. So my father realised he had to do something unusual to get them to go and buy something. And he created this particular design, which as you can see is fitted with bamboo or Malacca cane as it’s real name is, and this was featured in Vogue magazine and was very, very successful. And the only thing you had to be careful of was not to get the bamboo wet because it might sprout.
I studied designing in 1964, 65 and my very first design that I was allowed to put into production, which I call RIP. The unusual feature about this design is that the nose piece here is flat, whereas normal frames would have an outward bump here. So this was on display, and the bell rang at the showroom and my father went to answer the door and standing there was Authur Askey, who was a comedian and Lord Snowdon, who had recently married Princess Margaret. My father asked, “who’s first” and Authur Askey said “His Lordship’s first stupid, who do you think?”. So my father obviously saw to Lord Snowdon first and he was looking for new spectacles and he came across this pair which was on display, tried it on, loved it and he had this made up for his prescription. He was subsequently photographed at a… judging entries for a glassware show, not optical show but a glassware show for vases etc. And this was a great feeling for me to see my first, my very first production design being worn by a celebrity such as Lord Snowdon.
1974 was the year of the punk and we wanted to get in on the act, so my father and I started rummaging around draws to see what could we find to actually adorn the frames with and make them look like punk glasses. So we found various items like paperclips, bits of chains, studs and various things and we put these onto the sunglasses, showed it to Vogue and Vogue said “Wow, we’ve got to use this”, and they did and then it snowballed on because then we found that our customers such as Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nicholls were asking us, can we have them because we’ve got customers coming in asking them, and especially the sloaney set who want to imitate anything which is fashionable at the time. So we had to really dig deep into every draw we could find and get all our staff to look in their draws to find what could they see that we could use to adorn these glasses and they proved to be very, very popular as a sunglass.
FREE TALK: The second in a series of screenings programmed by our Exhibition Road artist in residence Jamie Jenkinson, this screening looks at the relationship between movement and colour in artist film and video.
Discover the many treasures in the beautiful V&A galleries, find out where events are happening in the Museum or just check the location of the café, shops, lifts or toilets. Simple to use, the V&A interactive map works on all screen sizes, from your tablet or smartphone to your desktop at home.