A passionate collector of vintage eyewear, Mark Jensen’s ‘Forgotten Eyewear Museum’ offers a wonderful insight into the character and design creativity of frame styles of the past. We talked to Mark at London optics fair 100% Optical - where the frames were on display in January.
Mark Jensen’s enthusiasm for vintage spectacles is infectious. As a collector, he has spent many years sourcing frames for his collection, which includes eyewear from the last 75 years and some extraordinary pieces of design.
An optician and designer, Jensen became intrigued by the details of the frames and started to collect one-off pieces that caught his eye – some of which are rare and highly sought after by eyewear ‘connoisseurs’.
A Collection of Fine Eyewear
Over the last 25 years, Jensen has brought together some 2000 examples of fine eyewear into a collection which inspires a fascination for the extraordinary variety and artistry of the designs of the past. The frames and their ornate, colorful details underline the great pleasure and pride that designers wished frame wearers to take with them when wearing their designs as statement “fashion pieces”. They also serve as a reminder to have fun with your frames!
Among the selection of eyewear from the collection exhibited at the recent 100% Optical fair in London were Elton John’s famous windshield glasses. Created in the 1970s, these iconic ‘prescription’ frames with tiny ‘wipers’ were made from white plastic and were worn by Elton John both on and off stage. They were one of the more outlandish styles in his collection, which included glasses with stars, sea horses, pianos and even palm trees.
Asked to pick out one of his favorite pieces, Jensen led me past some incredible jewel-encrusted designs to an eye-catching concept piece from the 1960s. With its striking clear thick crystal-style acetate, this design was made in Germany and has not yet been attributed to a particular maker. The small yellow lenses installed in the oversized frame give it a particularly unique look.
One of my personal highlights among the frames on display were the Christian Dior metal rim sunglasses, featured on a VOGUE front cover in 1970. Jensen said he had sourced these all the way from Dnipro in Ukraine from a well-known vintage eyewear dealer. With their oversized round double rims and lightly toned lenses, theses super-luxe statement styles were in excellent condition and would turn heads on the runway, even today.
About Mark Jensen
Mark Jensen is the author of Forgotten Eyewear: Art of the Frame, a photographic book that features details of vintage frames in the collection. Thirty designs are featured including works by Gail Spence, Jean Paul Gaultier, Silhouette and Yves Saint Laurent.
Images: courtesy of 100% Optical London and Mark Jensen.