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Eyewear – make a spectacle of yourself while finding a clear individual style

Eyewear – make a spectacle of yourself while finding a clear individual style
Big round glasses magnify the eyes of the model wearing fashion glasses designed by Marly, a Paris optician, 28 January 1969. Image: Keystone / Getty Images

Forget about off-the-shelf purchases. Instead, take time to find the right spectacles for you.

With a growing reliance on digital devices, prescription eyewear is more critical than ever – not only to improve vision and protect our eyesight, but also to enhance productivity and accuracy in the workplace. For most of us, these utilitarian necessities should also look good: suiting our personality, lifestyle and style preferences as much as our face shape, colouring and pocket. 

In the world of optical practice, niche providers are turning into destination practices by offering a personalised consultation service, customised frames, and a world-class experience to help customers select the perfect frame to suit their style, needs and personality. 

Three models at the Fashion and Spectacle Show, at the Mount Royal Hotel, London, seen wearing unusual spectacles. (Photo by Reg Speller/Getty Images)

Three models at the Fashion and Spectacle Show, at the Mount Royal Hotel, London, seen wearing unusual spectacles. Image: Reg Speller / Getty Images

12th September 1974: English pop star Elton John with a suitcase of his trademark sunglasses. (Photo by D. Morrison/Express/Getty Images)

12th September 1974: English pop star Elton John with a suitcase of his trademark sunglasses. Image: D. Morrison / Express / Getty Images

For Adele Camarena of Spectacle World in Cape Town, eyewear is not only personal, it rounds off a “look”. She says the pandemic has played an important role in the demand for customised eyewear, with a clear trend, she says, towards “dopamine dressing” to lift the mood and individualism. 

Camarena even completed a certificate in eyewear styling with eyewear specialist Eva Davé during Covid, not only to stay on-trend but, she explains, to give her customers a memorable experience. 

She believes eyewear – often the first thing that is noticed about someone – should be a reflection of an individual. She says that she is able “to advise patients on suitable eyewear to enhance their facial features and to make them feel great, confident and, above all, see well. 

“Eyewear styling entails the psychology of colour, a detailed colour and facial feature analysis, looking at the individual’s style personality, as well as incorporating optical measurements.”

More than simply enhancing vision, eyewear should not only fit your face and features well but also reflect your styling personality and boost your confidence. The styling walls of her Spectacle World practice in Goodwood are swathed with photographs of her clients – ranging from radio presenter Zoe Brown, to Mikateko Media founder and Tussen Ons host Ingrid Jones, renowned actress Sandra Prinsloo, chef Pedro Clement, and some ordinary Joes rocking their new frames.

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Image: Spectacle World

Camarena says bright colours and cheerful prints have made a comeback.

“This trend has also translated into eyewear. More people are working from home and spending time in Zoom meetings, so eyewear is now viewed as an important accessory that can entirely switch up your look, at the same time ensuring that your personal style is seen on screen. Gone are the days of being reserved.”

It’s about celebrating life, standing out from the crowd, and updating your look, she explains. 

Their ranges include maximalist Seventies; classic and aviator styles; clear, translucent and colourful frames; animal prints; modern steel frames; boldly coloured acetate frames; and vintage-inspired cat eyes. And for those of us who are exposed to potentially harmful blue-violet light from LEDs and other screens, Camarena explains that she fits Zeiss digital lenses with a DuraVision BlueProtect coating, which is the latest optical lens technology to enhance clear, comfortable vision.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Carla Gugino attends the Worldwide Orphans 15th Anniversary Benefit Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on November 13, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Worldwide Orphans)

Carla Gugino attends the Worldwide Orphans 15th Anniversary Benefit Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on 13 November 2012 in New York City. Image: Michael Loccisano / Getty Images for Worldwide Orphans

At Oculus in Green Point, founder Pieter Steyn custom-designs eyewear to suit clients’ face shapes. Steyn, who worked as an optometrist “for the longest time” at an international optical retail chain before opening his store in 2010, explains he simply wanted to do something a little different to stand out in the market. 

Initially, his practice imported high-end frames from Europe, the US and Japan, but with the declining value of the rand, the price increases were becoming more difficult to justify. “There’s a price bracket above which you can’t sell in South Africa. South Africans are just not willing to pay R14,000 for a top designer frame.”

UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: Jeff Goldblum attends the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project 2022 Summer Block Party at Universal Studios Backlot on June 11, 2022 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jeff Goldblum attends the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project 2022 Summer Block Party at Universal Studios Backlot on 11 June 2022 in Universal City, California. Image: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09: Samuel L. Jackson attends the UK Premiere of "Glass" at The Curzon Mayfair on January 09, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Samuel L. Jackson attends the UK Premiere of “Glass” at The Curzon Mayfair on 9 January 2019 in London, England. Image: Jeff Spicer / Getty Images

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13: Oprah Winfrey attends the European Premiere of 'A Wrinkle In Time' at BFI IMAX on March 13, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/John Phillips/Getty Images)

Oprah Winfrey attends the European Premiere of ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ at BFI IMAX on 13 March 2018 in London, England. Image: John Phillips / John Phillips/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 30: Oprah Winfrey attends The Hollywood Reporter's Empowerment In Entertainment Event 2019 at Milk Studios on April 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for THR)

Oprah Winfrey attends The Hollywood Reporter’s Empowerment In Entertainment Event 2019 at Milk Studios on 30 April 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Image: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for THR

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06: Aunt Flora speaks during the 'Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star' panel at the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network portion of the 2011 Winter TCA press tour held at the Langham Hotel on January 6, 2011 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Aunt Flora speaks during the ‘Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star’ panel at the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network portion of the 2011 Winter TCA press tour held at the Langham Hotel on 6 January 2011 in Pasadena, California. Image: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Whoopi Goldberg attends the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 portrait studio on April 19, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Whoopi Goldberg attends the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 portrait studio on 19 April 2013 in New York City. Image: Larry Busacca / Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 04: Meryl Streep attends "The Eye Of The Storm" New York Premiere at MOMA on September 4, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Meryl Streep attends “The Eye Of The Storm” New York Premiere at MOMA on 4 September 2012 in New York City. Image: Jason Kempin / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Ava DuVernay attends TheWrap's Awards Season Screening Series Presents "Middle Of Nowhere" on November 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images for TheWrap)

Ava DuVernay attends TheWrap’s Awards Season Screening Series Presents “Middle Of Nowhere” on 20 November 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Image: Valerie Macon / Getty Images for TheWrap

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Actor Lance Gross, winner of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne,' poses for a portrait during the 44th NAACP Image Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on February 1, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

Actor Lance Gross, winner of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, poses for a portrait during the 44th NAACP Image Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on 1 February 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Image: Charley Gallay / Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards


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Steyn, who travels to eyewear fairs twice a year, says he was struck by the nonexistence of African frames at the shows.

“I wanted to create an African-centric product and after doing some research, I found a course in the Alps, taught by a guild of framemakers to custom-make frames.”

Back in South Africa, he built up his studio to offer not only an African product but something different to cater to local customers. His clientele want something different, which inspired a range called Zero Two One, which he describes as a “love letter to Cape Town”, with frames named after streets in the Mother City. Some are made with acetate imported from Italy; others are made from wildlife horns, which the tourists are wild about. 

“We’ve just started exporting small batches because we have a very small manufacturing capability, which we’ve sent to Sydney, Antwerp and Los Angeles. 

“It’s been a joy to see our own products to sit amongst the best in the world,” he says, adding that it has been quite a journey. “It took about three years to get the quality to the level where it can sit on the shelf, which was quite a challenge.” DM/ML

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