In the frame: Linda Farrow - brains behind sunglasses brand delving into our shady past

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Alexander Fury meets the designers as they celebrate a decade of shading the stylish

Treasure troves aren’t exactly everyday finds – swathes of gold and precious gems hidden in the most innocuous and unlikely of places, ripe for rediscovery. A fashion treasure trove is even rarer – especially because, unlike gold, fashion loses both its value and its glitter through  the passage of time.

But, oddly enough, that’s exactly how the Linda Farrow brand began its new lease of life a decade ago. Back in 2003 the husband and wife team behind the label, Tracy Sedino and Simon Jablon, were boyfriend and girlfriend aged 24 and 22 respectively. While renovating a warehouse belonging to Simon’s parents, they discovered thousands of pairs of sunglasses in mint condition. Simon’s mother, incidentally, is Linda Farrow, who founded her eponymous company in 1970 before shuttering the firm to focus on her family in the mid-Eighties. Obviously, she assumed the sunglasses would never see the light of day again. No pun intended.

“It was a time when vintage had really exploded, both as a source of inspiration for modern designers and also for the resale market,”says Tracy Sedino. And the bold-face names emblazoned on a selection of the frames – Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Sonia Rykiel to name but a few, all of whom Linda Farrow worked with to create unique sunglasses – guaranteed they would catch the public eye.

“We decided we had to do something with this amazing fashion treasure trove. We decided the time was right to relaunch Linda Farrow, under the name Linda Farrow Vintage.”

The reaction was instantaneous and universally positive – the company has turned a profit from the get-go. Obviously, several thousands of pairs later, Linda Farrow couldn’t rely on vintage frames alone. The company is now renamed Linda Farrow, a reflection of the fact that while the label still looks to vintage for its inspirations, its designs are firmly focused on the future.

“The Seventies and Eighties were amazing years in terms of sunglasses. Those golden-framed, mirror-lenses aviators that are so synonymous with Seventies chic and the minimal black acetate-framed look of hard eEghties chic – those are references that we are drawn to again and again,” says Sedino.

“There are really amazing optics to choose from in every decade – the cats-eyes of the Fifties, the oversized Jackie O shades of the Sixties, those are iconic. They’ll never be forgotten and people will always want to wear them.”

They are also designs that inspire other designers: as with Farrow herself in the Seventies, fashion designers soon began turning to the revitalised Linda Farrow label to create eyewear afresh. “From launching the vintage range, a lot of designers were approaching us, excited by the archive frames,” continues Sedino. “It got to a point where we couldn’t keep reselling the vintage, the archive Dior and Saint Laurent. So we thought: why not collaborate with the modern equivalent of these brands and create future vintage?”

The first labels Sedino and Jablon’s Linda Farrow worked with included Belgian-based Dries Van Noten and the exuberant New York designer Jeremy Scott – Van Noten drawing on ombre-lensed, acetate frames from the Seventies, and Scott taking inspiration from harder, brasher Eighties styles to fit with his colourful Pop-inspired collections. They still collaborate with the designers today, alongside brands including Oscar de la Renta and the Olsen twins’ label The Row in New York, innovative menswear designer Walter van Beirendonck in Paris and lingerie specialist Agent Provocateur in London.

“We have our own in-house team who work with designers individually,” says Sedino of the experience creating styles for some of the most exacting designer names in the world.

“Some designers respond best to a brief; looking through archive designs and giving them a modern twist. Other designers work intensely with the in-house team to create frames that are entirely unique to their vision. However, they all have a root in the Linda Farrow archive. There’s always a touch of the history there that gives it our distinct handwriting. That’s what customers – and the designers themselves – expect from anything bearing the Linda Farrow label.”

London designer Erdem Moralioglu began working with Linda Farrow last summer, creating sunglasses styles to compliment his spring/summer 2013 Erdem collection. “I found Linda Farrow so refreshing to work with – they don’t impose limitations on what you’re doing, or on what you want to do,” he says. “And I have quite an affinity for glasses – as someone who wears them myself.” For his spring collection, slick with sick pastel shades and snakeskin and dedicated to Fifties sci-fi writer Zenna Henderson, Erdem and Linda Farrow created retro-futuristic cat’s eye sunglasses in opal colours and metal. Those were inspired by classic Fifties styles, with a twist. “There’s a wonderful freedom in working with Linda Farrow,” says Moralioglu. “You’re allowed to play. But the designers there are amazing in being able to realise your ideas technically. It’s one thing to go in with an image, but quite another to technically a beautiful pair of glasses to sit on the human face.”

The sense of collaboration is key both to Sedino and Jablon’s still-expanding business and this year’s tenth anniversary celebrations. For the first time, it isn’t restricted to your face.

“We chose 10 specialist designers and  fashion studios from around the world to  collaborate with on a collection of limited  edition pieces, to create a ‘Linda Farrow  Universe’ of luxury,” says Sedino.

The Linda Farrow universe, it seems, is an unusual one. There’s everything from a leather-trussed Agent Provocateur playsuit to strappy Nicholas Kirkwood shoes, to a Saga woven fox fur coat. It kind of fits: the brand was originally founded in the Seventies after all, when Helmut Newton was riding high. He’d have a field-day photographing this clobber.

For the slightly less brave (or those looking for something lighter on the pocket – the shoes weigh in around £900, that fetishy playsuit £250) Farrow has created a £60 candle with Cire Trudon. “And of course, a capsule collection of limited-edition sunglasses,” says Sedino.

“We thought about the kind of presents we’d like to receive for our tenth anniversary, and  decided to offer them to our clientele.”

Their biggest gift to themselves and to that ever-growing clientele is their new stand-alone boutique on Mount Street, coupled with a shop-in-shop in Selfridges opening on 9 September – both firsts for the label, like that expansion into lifestyle. The two new outposts will stock the 10th Anniversary collection as will worldwide retailers including NET-A-PORTER, New York’s

Jeffrey and Colette in Paris, who have turned over their window to Linda Farrow’s birthday celebrations. After reviving and then designing, the Linda Farrow label for a decade, you can’t help but think Sedino and Jablon must have the recipe for the perfect pair. That commercial Holy Grail? But it’s not to be. “That’s the great thing about sunglasses: they’re personal,” says Sedino. “It’s about finding something to suit your face, not to suit fashion of the time. They’re always in style.” And, it seems, something people will always treasure.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?