Today women can wear glasses proudly thanks to the color and subtlety of modern design.
In some of today’s fashion circles vintage is in. 1950s-60s eye wear is particularly popular, either as wearables or simply as collectables. Images and advertising that feature the legendary ‘cat eye’ look are sometimes reposted and reblogged hundreds of times on sites like Pinterest and Tumblr.
This 1960 Ray Ban advert is particularly popular:
Ray Ban’s color and modern design, 1960
Below are two entertaining videos from the British Pathé vintage fashion collection that showcase some of the fantastic designs introduced during the 1950s. The first is a tutorial demonstrating ‘how glasses can be fashionable and glamourous, (with) tips on choosing the right pair of specs in terms of frame colour and shape for a woman’s face.’ The second takes the viewer into a class for models at the Lucy Clayton school where they are learning about the available styles and designs of glasses and how to wear them. It’s all great fun.
In the 1960s there was a flurry of electronic and computer innovation and breakthroughs. Near the end of the decade, in 1968, London, England, hosted a trade fair – the Instruments, Electronics and Automation Exhibition at the Olympia conference center. One would imagine that it should have been filled with all kinds of new and exciting examples of modern ingenuity. After a very thorough search through several databases, only one exhibit appears to have made an impression.
The video below is from the fantastic British Pathé collection on YouTube. It features Miss Honeywell – “a futuristic ‘robot girl’ demonstrating various pieces of equipment by computer company Honeywell Controls Ltd..” The commentator is skeptical. The observers seem fascinated.
Yes indeed. The commentator is correct – the man at the controls is illusionist Mark Wilson. Wilson has been credited as the man who brought stage magic innovation to television. He’s since had a very successful career, earned the title of Master Magician, and has been honored with numerous national and international magician awards by his peers. ‘Miss Honeywell’ was more than likely Wilson’s wife and longtime assistant, Nani Darnell.
It appears that the innovation that stole the show in 1968 wasn’t an electronic computerized automation at all – it was instead a dazzling low-tech illusionist invention. Below are two pages of Mark Wilson’s ‘APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR PRODUCING DISPLAY ILLUSIONS’ abstract. It was filed in January 1969 and was patented October 1971.
Just one last thing about the ‘robot girl’ – she wasn’t a one-trick-automaton. Wilson’s creation traveled to a number of exhibitions and trade shows. Earlier in ’68 she did a gig for Hamilton Beach as the highly efficient housecleaner ‘Roberta the Robot’ at the Home Furnishings Exposition in San Francisco. By 1970 she developed a glitzy glammish look and took to speaking French – La ‘femme robot ménager’ can be seen here.