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Making a spectacle: The return of Curry & Paxton

Posted on October 18 2016

Curry and Paxton first made precision lenses and ophthalmic instruments during the Victorian age, becoming one of the most respected names in their field. The company grew in both reputation and size, and by the 1960s, Curry & Paxton had opened a nationwide chain of opticians, with one very famous customer: Sir Michael Caine.

Curry and Paxton | Sir Michael Caine

Michael Caine in Zulu (1964)

Caine was an unusual star of his time. A working-class lad from a poor London family in Elephant and Castle, he became a star of the screen after his role in "Zulu" as an upper-class officer. However, publicly he retained his cockney accent (and his glasses), to become a far more human face of stardom. Unarguably, Caine's glasses became a part of his fame, a part of his iconography.

Curry and Paxton | Michael Caine Harry Palmer Square

Harry Palmer in Curry & Paxton spectacles (1965)

In "The IPCRESS File", Caine portrayed Harry Palmer as a kind of anti-Bond, a working-class, down-to-earth spy who didn't travel the globe to exotic locations, wasn't equipped with fast cars and cutting-edge gadgetry, and whose character was more at home in his own kitchen than the fine dining rooms Bond frequented. More than that, his character wore glasses, which made him more of an everyman than Connery's slick super-spy. Not that this did him any harm with the ladies. In fact, in "The IPCRESS File", Harry Palmer is asked by Courtney, a beautiful woman with whom he works, if he always wears them. "Yes, except in bed," replies Palmer, to which she pointedly removes them.

Curry and Paxton | Michael Caine Harry Palmer and Courtney

Courtney occasionally preferred Palmer without his glasses

Many have speculated as to who made these glasses, but it was confirmed to be none other than Curry & Paxton when the very pair worn by Caine in the Harry Palmer films went up for auction at Christie's. These were revealed to be the Curry & Paxton YVAN frames, which incidentally IPCRESS File author Len Deighton also wore.

Deighton and Caine in Curry & Paxton YVAN frames 

Caine wore these frames with optical lenses for all of his appearances in the Harry Palmer films, and then again as sunglasses in "The Italian Job". They have since become iconic in their own right, and are instantly recognised by the distinctive hexagonal arrangement of pinwork securing the hinges.

Curry and Paxton | Michael Caine Harry Palmer gun

Ready for action in the Ipcress File sequel, Funeral in Berlin (1966)

Today Curry & Paxton have returned, offering a fully bespoke service, with custom high-grade cellulose optical frames from world-renowned Italian manufacturer Mazzucchelli, and prescription lenses. To celebrate the relaunch of the company, Curry & Paxton are also offering a Ready-to-Wear sunglasses collection, exclusive to Mason & Sons, inspired by classic frames worn by some of the greatest icons of the 20th century. 

Curry and Paxton | Michael Caine

Michael Caine wore the Yvan model as both optical frames and sunglasses

Firstly, the YVAN is back, and now you too can look as cool as Caine in "The Italian Job" with these iconic frames - perfect for your own European adventure.

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Curry & Paxton | YVAN IN DARK TORTOISESHELL


Despite visiting some of the most exotic locations around the globe, Sean Connery's James Bond wore sunglasses only twice: Once in "From Russia With Love" and then again in "Thunderball". The "Thunderball" wayfarer-style sunglasses have been the subject of much conjecture as to their manufacturer, with Bond fans suggesting numerous makes and models. However, the Curry & Paxton Sean model is the result of painstaking research and investigation and have been recreated from an original, vintage pair of sunglasses, identical to those worn by Connery as 007.

Curry and Paxton | Sean Connery, Thunderball

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Curry & Paxton | Sean in piano black


Few can truly claim the epithet "iconic" but James Dean unarguably deserves the title. In just a few years, and with only two films under his belt (Giant would be released posthumously), Dean became one of the biggest film stars in the world and a poster-boy for an entire generation rebelling against the strictures of post war society. Dean's clip-on sunglasses over his optical frames were - like everything about him - effortlessly cool. Available in two colours, the Curry & Paxton James model reflects these timeless sunglasses. 

Curry and Paxton | James Dean

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Curry & Paxton | JAMES IN CARAMEL TORTOISESHELL


Cary Grant is regarded as an absolute icon of style. As Roger O. Thornhill in "North By Northwest", he exuded effortless sophistication and taste. When it's time for his character to go "incognito", Grant slips on a pair of classic tortoiseshell sunglasses. Far from disappearing into the crowd, he looks cooler than ever and attracts the attention of ice cool blonde Eva Marie Saint. The Curry & Paxton Cary model pays tribute to these iconic sunglasses.

Curry and Paxton | Cary Grant, North by North West

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Curry & Paxton | CARY IN VINTAGE TORTOISESHELL


John Lennon had worn rounded sunglasses before the film "How I Won the War" was released, but it was this film that truly cemented the idea of "Lennon" glasses in the public imagination and popularised the style. Lennon himself continued to wear the rounded frames almost until the time of his death and it's fair to say that there are few icons who are as linked to their choice of eyewear as Lennon was. The Curry & Paxton John model reflects this association between the legendary former Beatle and his iconic glasses.

Curry and Paxton | John Lennon, New York City

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Curry & Paxton | JOHN IN SILVER STEEL


They don't come much cooler than Robert Redford, and the Robert model from Curry & Paxton pays homage to the iconic actor's sunglasses of choice. The classic aviator frame is timeless, and Redford wore them in a variety of styles, including as opticals. However, he never looked better than when striding out in his reflective aviators. The steel framed Robert model, with diamond-coated lenses, look every bit as cool as the man himself.

Curry and Paxton | Robert Redford

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Curry & Paxton | ROBERT IN BOLD MIRROR


The Curry & Paxton Ready-to-Wear Icon Collection is available exclusively at Mason & Sons.

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