Laura Nicholson is the eyes, face and brain behind the glasses of Larke Optics. She designs some of the best looking and stylish eyewear seen on the boat races of London right now, so Josh Jones thought he’d go and ask her about it.
Hey Laura, how’s it going? All Christmassed up?
Hello. Good thanks. Yes, December has been busy – finalising the new collection and collaboration projects planned for the new year, combined with lots of festive socialising, so I’m very much looking forward to hibernating next week with the family and eating my way through Christmas.
What are the most iconic pair of specs ever in your opinion?
In my opinion it has to be the ever influential Mr. Yves Saint Laurent’s frames – he wore a similar style for many years that were timeless and suited his face shape impeccably.
Is there anyone in particular you’d like to make facial furniture for?
There really is no one in particular, though it’s incredible to hear that my designs are the exact frames a person has been scouring the earth for years to find… I guess they’re the people I like to make facial furniture for.
Am I right in saying that your glasses are a perfect mix of Italian materials and English workmanship? What’s the process in making a pair?
Yes, that’s right. Each frame is entirely hand crafted from the finest blocks of rare and end of line Italian acetate, by skilled artisans in one of the last remaining British workshops.
The timeless rituals applied to conceive each frame, start with the front piece being milled by hand from a sheet of acetate, then mounted into a jig to be routed to create room for the lenses. The front piece is then shaped further, the nose pads are added and the bridge is bumped if required. Each arm is then also milled, shaped and branded with a hot gold foil stamp, and each temple is shot with wire to add strength. Following this, metal hinges are secured to the arms and front piece and then screwed together to complete the frame structure. Once assembled, the frame is treated to a timely final hand polish to achieve an enduring polished finish and finally, the lenses are cut and inserted into frame.
How did you get into spectacle design?
Having worn spectacles since I was a child, over the years I found the process of searching for new frames exhausting and dissatisfying. I could never truly find what I was searching for and never purchased my glasses with that ‘falling in love’ feeling, so the urge was big enough to design and create my own. I’ve worked within the fashion industry since completing a photography degree at UAL, and the whole idea of designing an eyewear collection fell into place when I found an incredible workshop that could handcraft my frames here in the UK.
And finally, what’s the best part of London this time of year?
Arguably one of the East End’s most quintessential streets and full of rich history. Wrestling through the crowds down Victorian shop-lined Columbia Road on market day, whilst immersed in the visual and aromatic delights of all manners of seasonal flora, before heading into The Royal Oak for a glass or two of mulled wine to warm up, is one of the best ways to while away a cold Sunday in December.
Photo: Tom Medwell