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Spectacles exhibition gets the Goldsmith seal of approval
Oliver Goldsmith launches exhibition at National Glass Centre.

SUNDERLAND.- One of the world’s most iconic spectacle designers has unveiled a major exhibition at National Glass Centre featuring eyewear created by three generations of his family and photographic works of the famous faces who wore them.

Oliver Goldsmith travelled to Sunderland from his London base to officially launch the exhibition which features spectacle designs that have enthralled generations, charting the progression of the company over three generations of ‘Oliver’s’, who steered the company into becoming one of the most successful British spectacle designers of the mid-20th century.

Oliver Goldsmith Ltd Spectacles and Sunglasses are synonymous with style and celebrity. Thanks to their innovative designs and dedication to quality, their frames became trend setters in the latter half of the 20th Century. Working with fashion houses like Dior and Givenchy, Oliver Goldsmith spectacles and sunglasses graced the faces of some of the most influential personalities to impact fashion trends of the day, from Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly Princess of Monaco to Michael Caine and Peter Sellers.

Oliver said: “When I received the call to say National Glass Centre was interested in an exhibition of my glasses, I was more than happy to collaborate. I have an archive of over 600 designs, so I was over the moon to have them on display.

“We’ve worked towards this for almost two years and selected some of the most iconic designs for the exhibition, especially the ones I have created for famous people, and this is what of course will attract attention for visitors. But for me personally I am most pleased that this exhibition shows the history of our company from 1926 through to the present.”

Awareness of the potential of spectacle frames as a fashion accessory, as opposed to a potentially embarrassing medical necessity, grew rapidly from the early 20th century. Buoyed by innovative new technology, improving manufacturing techniques, the introduction of the National Health Service here in Britain, and the craze of 'the celebrity', spectacles came to be considered as an increasingly accessible fashion must have.

As the popularity of spectacles grew the company Oliver Goldsmith Ltd. was established as a family run business designing and manufacturing spectacle frames. With innovative design and integrated high quality Oliver Goldsmith became a fashion leader working with Dior, Givenchy and British designer Teddy Tingling from the 1950s.

“When I arrived at National Glass Centre and saw this exhibition for the first time I was blown away”, said Oliver. “I never thought anyone would do such a wonderful exhibition for me, and will certainly be boasting about it through social media.

“I hope visitors get a chance to see what my family’s company has created over the years, and to feel that they can now go and choose glasses at the optician based on what they like, always choose the shape you like and feel comfortable wearing and look upon it as face jewellery for women and for men face furniture for men.

“My favourite designs were on Michael Caine, the Consul, which he wore for film The Ipcress File, and the Vice Consul which Peter Sellers wore outside of his film work.”

Oliver added: “My father was the instigator of fashion eyewear after the Second World War. He wanted to market his designs and so he created way-out designs and took them to Vogue who couldn’t wait to publish them, initially they sold in a limited number because they were quite way-out but when I began designing in the Swinging 60s my father had certainly become a fashion item.”

Julia Stephenson, Head of Arts at National Glass Centre, said: “To create this exhibition, we wanted to look at that idea of chronology and how fashion design had moved forward, by looking at spectacle frames. We split the exhibition into groups of decades and also the three generations of the Goldsmith family, and we worked with an exhibition designer. We decided to separate the gallery using colour, which tries to grasps the atmosphere of the various decades, the colour changes as you walk around go round, as do the designs and really reflect the decades that they are from.

“I think people will be attracted to the show because of the names of the clients, they will enjoy it because everyone knows about spectacles, whether they are for helping your vision or for sunglasses, but I also hope they will go away having enjoyed the quality of design and the quality of production.”

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