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The Story of the Reprise Eyewear Collection

The vintage eyewear passion of Michael Jardine

This site contains Michael Jardine's collection of mostly antique and vintage eyewear. It was amassed over 20 years out of the 40 years he has been in the business of developing and selling eyewear.

Some collectors of vintage eyewear might find this collection confusing. There will be depth in certain areas and other brands or designers ignored entirely. To understand this, it should be seen in the light of who collected it.

Collections like Tura, from the 50's through the 80's and Polo Ralph Lauren from the 80's represent important milestones to Michael. Barton Levoy from Tura and Charles Schmall from the global licensee for Polo, Optique Du Monde, were Michael's early mentors. "Barton taught me to put eyewear design and quality above price and Charlie taught me the value of brands", says Michael.

Collections like Philippe Chevallier and Serge Kirchhofer were eyewear brands of great value that had all but disappeared from the pantheon of eyewear greatness. Chevallier developed the first fashion sunglasses for the runway shows of the Paris couture houses in the 60's and are among the most valuable vintage sunglasses that money can buy today. Serge Kirchhofer was the luxury brand of Optyl and the brainchild of Udo Proksch, the talented and tormented creative director of the Optyl brands like Carrera and Viennaline and unquestionably the person who brought art, design, branding, packaging and marketing to a backward medical device industry and transformed it into the formidable fashion industry that it became and still is today.

Eventually Michael also acquired the Philippe Chevallier and Serge Kirchhofer brands and some basic attempt was made to relaunch these. That is still a work in progress but some very interesting prototype models were developed that are available here in the collection. They will of course be identified as such and might in some ways be the most collectible of all. They will be truly one of a kind.

Here and there you will see other areas of great interest, including the work in the 90's in Japan for Jean Paul Gaultier and Yohji Yamamoto, many of the house brands and licensed brands of Optyl, early USA like A. Sutain, Gaspari, Bernard Kayman, leatherworks from Michael's early eyewear company in Canada called TannerEye, for companies like Polo, Tura and Ray-Ban.

There is a wonderful walk through the French eyewear industry of the 50's, 60's, 70' s and 80's. With the exception of a few couture designers, almost all really creative French eyewear in the early decades was great craft but unbranded. By the 70's and 80's this was changing and brands like Ted Lapidus, Emmanuelle Khanh and many others had become fully entrenched in the industry.

Sometimes you will see pieces in the collection that are referred to as "design models". These are frames that only someone who makes frames could love and rough quality might be less of a concern than an interesting eye shape, colouration, hinge or temple design. Collectors of icons will not get these but makes of eyewear often will.

John Barr - Born in Yorkshire, England, John started as a frame maker at the young age of 15 and has worked throughout the world, for Michael Birch and Paul Green in his early years in the UK, to Malta, to Swank in the US, Imperial Optical in Canada and finally to the TannerEye factory in Prince Edward Island in the early 80's. The factory disappeared in the late 80's but John stayed on the Island and continued to design and make hand samples for Michael and Michael's clients. Within the collection is a collection of John Barr design prototypes spanning nearly 20 years. Some are basic and some are very complicated. There is even a collection of plexiglas frames that are not to be missed. Each is a unique design model that was never produced and every eyewear maker will know the value of these.  For collectors who might be interested, we are working on a certificate of authenticity for each model that will be signed by John, as the prototypes themselves are completely unbranded.

Today John is a young 70 and lives on Prince Edward Island, where he has taught the next generation of eyewear makers at Fellow Earthlings  and is also working on his own branded eyewear collection.

Several years ago Michael acquired the personal and professional archive of Udo Proksch. The archive includes more than 7000 design drawings and 1000 prototypes and a treasure trove of Udo's artwork and advertising photography. From this, a book was created called Udotopia It is a 456 page celebration of eyewear and Udo's creative genius. Among his most compelling designs, there were pieces that were either never made or for which there was at least no samples or records. John Barr and Fellow Earthlings took on the task of recreating some of these in order that they could be photographed for the book. They too will be available for sale and will be identified as such.

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