Ooh I’ll have a tortoise Fitzrovia and a dark tortoise Soho please


I am a massive fan of anything vintage, always have been. Many a holiday has become “complete” in my eyes (excuse the early pun) after an accidental stumbling across a flea-market-carboot-tabletop-sale-charity-shop-junk-pile of some sort. This enthusiasm for the elderly item extends not to just clothes, shoes, bags, furniture, music, films and books, this also includes what I put on my face to help me see.

Here is just a small part of the sprawling hoard of the old glasses I have accumulated over the years thanks to rummaging around in Brussels, Cologne, Berlin, London, eBay… not forgetting the surviving spectacles that my siblings and I wore as children courtesy of the stylish NHS.

I don’t wear the above, far too fancy for the everyday face. I stick to 2 pairs right now – one 80s vintage plain clear wayfarer style pair and one modern Specsavers £25 special two tone brown wayfarer style pair. Oddly enough, I think this collecting is some kind of legacy from my mother, who kept hold of our childhood glasses and used them in her Fine Art degree show. It must have made an impression on my 9 year old self. Well, that and years and years of enduring the darn things (I was 2 when I became 4 eyed).

I was delighted to have recently acquired some beautiful glasses at an outdoor vintage market during a recent trip to New York. Particularly pleased that I could actually get them “made up” and wear them, to like, actually see and stuff. Amazingly, the prescription is uncannily similar to my own (what are the odds eh!), but I mustn’t be tempted to dodge forking out £100 or so for the correct Harriet Fleuriot sized lenses…

So it was with great joy that I was invited to the launch of London Retro‘s first range of vintage inspired eyewear, tempted by the promise of a complimentary pair of glasses. Sounded right up my street.

Apparently the team behind London Retro were “inspired by the eclectic trends of the capital and the range reflects the quirky style that can be seen in London’s coolest hangouts, from Hoxton Square to Portobello Road.” Each individual design is named after the “style hubs” of London, and you can almost travel through the ages as you mark their heyday – Shoreditch, Camden, Hoxton, Fitzrovia, Carnaby, Soho, Portobello…. it’s a sweet and evocative way of conjuring up a romantic vision of all sorts of vintage fashionistas, before placing them on your face and imagining yourself away into that era. This spirit of retro roleplay was helped along by some old school sweets, cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks, and a dressup photobooth at the launch. Shooting People‘s Helen Jack helped me pout and pose through what we now call our “Assassin Parrot Sluts” series.

I must admit I was a little bit sceptical before seeing the London Retro collection, as so many of these retrospective modern frames have these ‘orrible ugly twists to them that ruin the classic shapes and colours. If you’re going to go doolally, then go all out, don’t unclassic a classic please. But I think London Retro has avoided this wonderfully and pulled it off with a beautiful and wholesome set of frames that could (almost) pass for vintage.

My favourite were by far the tortoiseshell Fitzrovia and a dark tortoise Soho and I have ordered myself a pair of each from Glasses Direct. Though the part of me that is purist is still not entirely convinced about the pinky bits on the Fitzrovia, they just looked too good everywhere else to resist. I really can’t wait to stick ’em on me mug. Maybe I should get my haircut in preparation…


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