An Evening of Glamour: February 28th from 6 to 8 pm

An Evening of Glamour

Stop by and shake off the winter blues at our “Evening of Glamour” event on February 28th from 6 to 8 pm at our shop at 210 Westminster Street in Providence.

Indulge in refreshments, including home-made “Cup Cakes by Eliza,” while enjoying enchanting piano music by Mark Taber and playing with our amazing collection of unique eyewear.  Just for fun, you can have your photo taken in any frame of your choice by a professional photographer in front of a celebrity-style backdrop, and you’ll walk away with a 4”X6” glam photo to show off to your friends.

You can also choose to enter your photo into the contest on our Facebook page.  If your photo gets the most votes, you’ll win a free eyeglass frame.  Even if you don’t get the most votes, you’ll get a 20% off coupon for any frame in the store.

Enjoy the evening out on us.   We promise it will be a memorable one.

P.S. Dear EYEMED insurance member, we accept your insurance again.

American Optical: Sunglasses with Real American History

American Optical’s iconic Wayfarer look-alike

It’s a story of the American dream turned to reality.  William Beecher (1805-1892), born on a Connecticut farm, ventured to Providence for an apprenticeship in jewelry making.  Little did he know how this decision would impact American history some years later.  After moving to Southbridge Connecticut to practice his new trade, he tripped across a very crudely made – and unfortunately, very typical – pair of eyeglasses imported from Europe.  “I can do it better,” he said to himself.  And he did.  The eyewear company he founded in 1833 eventually expanded and merged with other, smaller optical shops to become American Optical in 1869.  By the turn of the century, it employed 2,000 workers and soon expanded to include an office in London.

American Optical was a pioneer in ultraviolet protection

Opthalmic eyeglasses were the original, but not the only, product of this early eyewear company.  American Optical took its first step into the world of sunglasses in 1876 with tinted lenses in a variety of shades.  The critical leap forward came in 1913 when the company obtained the rights to glasses invented by British scientist Sir William Crookes, which launched the concept of ultraviolet protection.

But fashion eyewear  wasn’t enough for this innovative company.  During the World War I, American Optical designed and built an amazing and truly innovative mobile eyeglass fitting facility to provide optical support to U.S. and Allied Forces in Europe.  The mobile units – eight in all – contained frames, lenses, machinery and refraction equipment to allow qualified personnel in the field to conduct eye exams and fit troops with ophthalmic eyeglasses and sunglasses.  Through these mobile facilities, American Optical provided 2.5 million eyeglasses to the U.S. Government during the war.

American Optical expanded its support to the war effort in the Second World War to include goggles, gun sights, bombsights and other optical instruments used for military hardware, as well as eyeglasses. In fact, American Optical’s contributions in support of the U.S. military were so substantial that the company received the Army-Navy “E” award in recognition of its efforts.

Underneath that helmet, Neil Armstrong’s wore American Optical pilot sunglasses when he made that historic first step onto the moon in 1960

The company’s connection to the U.S. military didn’t end with the war.  In 1958, the company released the Flight Goggle 58, also known as the “Original Pilot Sunglass,” to give U.S. pilots maximum performance, protection and comfort.  Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong wore this sunglass when he stepped onto the surface of the moon in 1969 and it’s still in production today.

At least one Commander-in-Chief also benefitted from American Optical’s superior technology.  A pair of American Optical sunglasses is among the collection of his personal effects on hand at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library.

“Made in USA” — it’s a beautiful thing.

Through a stroke of great luck, we’ve acquired a collection of never-worn vintage American Optical sunglasses similar to the ones JFK wore – Wayfarer look-alikes with real glass lenses.  We offer them for just  $252.  Come in and try them on for a walk down the lane of American history.


Project Runway: The Cat Eyes Have It

Joseph Aaron Segal wearing his Jean Lempereur glasses from Providence Optical

Lifetime Television launched the 11th season of the reality fashion design competition show Project Runway last Thursday and among the contestants who made the cut in the season premier was Providence’s own Joseph Aaron Segal.  A graduate of RISD’s MFA Textile Design program, Segal started out as a fabric maker, with a heavy concentration on knits and then progressed to making high end apparel utilizing his own playful fabrics.  He is particularly enamored with cats, and he frequently features them – in profusion — sitting calmly and staring wide-eyed with luminous intensity.

Jean Lempereur frame in deep violet with red accents.

Segal has adopted the same wide-eyed look for his own visage, thanks to a pair of round Jean Lempereur specs (model JL 3025) that he purchased here at Providence Optical.  His choice of gray and white stripes fits purr-fectly with his feline fancy.  The solid opal color on the bottom half of the frame fades into the background, which pulls the viewer’s s attention upward, further enhancing the quizzical, wide-eyed look.

The JL 3025 in eggplant with orange accents

The JL 3025 also comes in a solid tortoise (for a professorial look), an artsy eggplant with orange accents, and a very deep violet with a subtle ring of red around the lenses for those who want to make others do a double take.

Segal has two fashion labels, World of JAS and Pretty Snake, which are sold online and in boutiques in the U.S. and Tokyo.  He also teaches industrial knitting at RISD.