STORY AND PHOTOS BY LINDA MILLER
Jamie Taylor never expected the purchase of designer vintage eyewear at a market in Amsterdam to ignite a business.
She just wanted a pair of great looking eyeglasses, something to make a statement and express her individual style. She and her husband bought two pair each, but they received so many compliments that when they returned to the Netherlands six months later, they purchased a few more pairs.
But why keep them for herself? Women in Oklahoma City would like these, too, she thought. She negotiated a deal to buy wholesale from the man she learned has one of the largest collections of vintage eyewear in Europe. For years, he has been buying leftover dead stock from factories scattered throughout Europe.
Taylor said he has a huge warehouse in the Netherlands, as well as his own store where Madonna visited recently. She left her glasses and took some of his. And, yes, Taylor asked to buy Madonna’s glasses but they weren’t for sale. He also supplies vintage eyewear to about 80 stores in Europe, as well as to Taylor’s company, Blinq Vintage Eyewear.
The businessman also has a link to Oklahoma. His father, a Cherokee, was from here and his parents met during the Korean War. His father was stationed in Holland and stayed there.
With connections made and enough eyeglasses for a good presentation, Taylor had a show in her Oklahoma City home and later at the Girlie Show locally and Palm Springs Modernism Week.
“It was phenomenal,” she said of the California show. “People in Palm Springs loved it. I’ve been back again and will go again next year.”
She has since participated at the Los Angeles Modernism Show, Dwell on Design and the Manhattan Gentlemen’s Vintage Show.
In Oklahoma City, the glasses are sold at r meyers in Nichols Hills Plaza. Prices average about $250, with a range from $185 to $425.
It’s no surprise men and women are excited by the collection of vintage European eyewear — ovals, squares, aviators and cat eyes by Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, Chopard and plenty of other designers not as well known here.
Totaling more than 500 pairs, the majority of Taylor’s ever-growing stash consists of original eyeglasses and sunglasses from the 1960s and ’70s, along with a more modern collection inspired by retro designs.
Her inventory changes often, depending on what she buys and what she sells. She may or may not still have an original Karl Lagerfeld aviator and a couple of Chanels, but what she always has is a large selection of designers and original styles, most with handmade frames and craftsmanship not found too often these days. Dutch designer Hans Winkel is well represented in the collection.
As the glasses became more popular and Taylor found not only inspiration but fun in the designs and details, she started to wonder exactly how much stock was available. It’s not like they are still being manufactured.
“So I asked him, ‘How long before you run out?’ ”
“I’ve got enough to supply us for the next 20 years,” he said.
Taylor said she enjoys learning about the history of eyewear and the designers, though there’s little information on some of the lesser known Europeans who put their name on the frame.
“Fashion eyewear kind of started in the 1970s,” she said. “Prior to that eyewear had been manufactured for utilitarian purposes.”
In the ’70s it became more of a fashion statement. That’s pretty much what this collection is, she said.
That fashion-making aspect caught her attention from the beginning. So what were those first two purchases? A 1970s style by Belgian designer Michel Henau and a 1960s pair with no designer mark but “the coolest copper brown color,” she said.Share story on Facebook Share story on Twitter Email a Friend.