I am blinder than a bat. Actually, since bats aren’t actually blind, I’m nearly as blind as a star-nosed mole. (Yes, I did google blind animals. I am nothing if not thorough in my search for an accurate analogy.)
Spectacles became my everyday reality when I was maybe seven years old. After the appointment to pick up my first pair of glasses, I remember sitting in the back of the car on the school run, and realising for the first time that grass wasn’t a green carpet, and had actual blades.
Back then the glasses that were available for children were horrific – NHS specs in blue, pale pink or clear, like something a 1950s granny might wear. They might be cool now, but believe me they were not then. Later on, I moved to big round ’80s specs which were just as horrific, so it was with huge relief that I moved to contact lenses in my early teens, early gas permeable lenses, which were small hard discs of plastic and felt like pieces of grit in the eye.
No matter, they were still preferable to looking like Deidre Barlow. Especially since now my eyesight had deteriorated to the point where my spectacle lenses looked like the ends of milk bottles, so my eyes looked like pissholes in the snow. And I didn’t miss trudging to school from the station on rainy mornings with water pouring down my glasses so I couldn’t see a thing.
I have had good pairs of glasses over the years. A lovely black pair from Cutler & Gross in my twenties stand out, a fantastic pair from my New York years that I picked up from Vint & York in Nolita (they specialise in vintage frames), some really great tortoiseshell Bobbi Brown glasses a few years back, and my most recent pair from Oliver Peoples on Sloane Street, but mainly they’ve been High Street frames which, because of the fight for price started by online retailers tend to be exceedingly flimsy and I’ve broken the arm off every single pair I’ve had in the past five years.
So this brings me to Alexis Amor. Last summer a PR friend sat across from me on a train and said you HAVE to visit this optical client I’ve just taken on. You’ll love them. I was enthusiastic – I’m always in the market for good specs, but it took me until March to haul my ass across to Richmond in South West London, where Alexis sells his beautifully designed frames from the Iris Optical store. Ridiculous, really, as it’s just 40 minutes by train from Camden, a standard London journey.
I went along on a Saturday morning for an eye test, and to pick out frames. The store has around 350 frames on display from not just Alexis’ own range, but from a great mix of brands that are known for their excellence and quality. Think Moscot, Chanel, Tom Ford, Oliver Peoples, Lindberg, Mykita, Ray-Ban, and Starck Eyes.
There’s a large selection of sunglasses, and prices for all frames are the same whether you buy online or in person. (They can also fit varifocal and bifocal lenses on the premises.)
Best of all, their USP is that if you buy the frames, then the lenses (standard) come free. An amazing bargain.
Pleasingly, the store is dog-friendly. Lettice was extremely well-behaved, and only barked at a few people.
Frames by Alexis Amor
Frames from Garrett Leight California Opticals, and from Prada
Above – A selection of Alexis’ own brand frames
So these are my finished glasses (below and at top in store during my fitting)- the Jojo in tortoiseshell – the ones I am wearing in store at top. I am exceptionally pleased with them – the frames are super solid; I will be very, very surprised if I drop these and they break. I’ve been garnering compliments daily and wear them out as much as I do contacts.
I should note that this style also comes in sunglasses. Very tempting
7 King Street, Richmond TW9 1ND
With huge thanks to Alexis Amor for giving me my new glasses,
and providing an eye test gratis.