I started wearing prescription eyeglasses when I was 18. It was probably a genetic inevitability (both of my parents wear them and my grandparents before them), but I blamed the green-and-black computer screen I stared at every weekday while working in the pattern-making/CAD department of an outerwear company.
Regardless of what or whom was to blame, I was destined to be a four-eyed-girl. The year before it was made prescription-official, I had decided that glasses were good. They were cool and I wanted them —not to see, but strictly for fashion purposes. So I bought a pair. They had big black frames that mimicked the shape of the Vuarnet sunglasses that were so popular at the time. It was 1987.
My mother thought it was ridiculous that I would buy — and wear — glasses that I didn’t actually need. I suspect that the look she gave me the night I wore them out on the town is not dissimilar to the way I admittedly can’t help but look at the hipster-kids-in-dorky-fake-glasses today, trolling the streets in my inner-city neighbourhood, on their way to the American Apparel store a few blocks away.
In my defense, I can say that I only wore the fakies one night. I went with my friend Tina to a private nightclub where we danced on the stage and drank vodka and 7-Ups with a splash (not a twist) of lime. That night, me and my fake glasses even met a nice older preppy boy appropriately named Preston.
I was wearing a floral-print rayon dress, probably with a drop-waist, tights and boots. The glasses worked with the look, but as the night wore one I started to get more and more self-conscious. I’d fiddle with them, take them off and put them back on, clean the cheap plastic “lenses” with the hem of my dress. I’d squirm when people I knew would ask when I got glasses or — worse — say they liked them. By the end of the night the fakies had found their way into my handbag and later, at home, stuffed into a cupboard in my room never to be worn again.
Fast forward a year and I had another pair of big black frames, but this time with prescription lenses. My enthusiasm for eyeglasses hadn’t much waned — I was happy to wear them out to the club, to dance on the stage and be that four-eyed-girl for real.
1. Joël Name, Details, August 1988. Photograph by Gilles Larrain.
2. Denis Piel for Vogue, March 1982.
3. Tura, Vogue, June 1984.
4. Silhouette Fashion Eyewear, Elle, September 1989.
5. Logo Paris, Vogue, July 1984.
6. Rodenstock, Vogue, October 1986.
7. Michel Comte for Mademoiselle, August 1987.
8. Tim Trompeter for Flare, November 1987. Dress by Chanel.
9. Gilles Bensimon for Elle, July 1988.