l.a.Eyeworks began on September 9, 1979 when Barbara McReynolds and Gai Gherardi opened a single storefront on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, California. The original whim for this adventure? To challenge the prevailing norms of eyewear with proposals for a new, provocative revelation of the face. More than four decades and hundreds of frame designs later, l.a.Eyeworks remains a privately owned house of optical imagination, encompassing two namesake retail stores in Los Angeles and a wholesale company that channels its influential designs to a global network of independent opticians and retailers.
McReynolds and Gherardi both grew up in the seaside community of Huntington Beach, becoming inseparable friends in high school. From that time forward, the two would string together a series of cross-country adventures that eventually led them back to southern California where they trained as opticians, working in several legendary optical shops and learning from the area's most notable craftspeople. Believing it was time to open up a new kind of conversation about glasses, McReynolds and Gherardi launched l.a.Eyeworks with a mission to encourage people to stop looking and to start seeing.
Original, often iconoclastic, and always invigorating, eyeglasses designed by l.a.Eyeworks are immediately recognized for their bold shapes, imaginative handling of materials, and expressive use of color. Working from deep intuition, McReynolds and Gherardi begin each of their limited-edition designs with a hand-drawn sketch, the first step on a path of meticulous production where the finest materials are shaped by a combination of technology and hand-finished crafting. Every aspect of an eyeglass frame's shaping and construction has at one time or another been re-thought and re-invented as part of the designers' restless imaginations. The result is an expanding legacy of glasses that balances innovation with wearability, walking a fine line between optical tradition and a redefining expression of the "now." Although l.a.Eyeworks have graced the faces of celebrities, performers, artists, and athletes, the deeper intention is for you to find a frame that conforms to no fashion sensibility but your own.
In addition to groundbreaking eyewear designs, l.a.Eyeworks has made an indelible stamp on the look and language of what an eyewear company can be. From streamlined architectural spaces to the cases that protect the frames, no detail is left untouched as a subject for creative investigation. Retail store windows, for example, are a messaging platform to invoke conversations about vision, culture, social equality, freedom of expression, and sometimes, the power of a really good pun. An abiding love for artists has been the genesis for an ongoing series of in-store exhibitions, event programming, and commissioned works, including a series of artist-designed cleaning cloths. Since 1981, the brand's signature portrait ad campaign, photographed by Greg Gorman, has featured an eclectic mix of more than 200 high-profile celebrities and lesser-known cultural provocateurs in an ever-evolving series of stunning black-and-white images, anchored by the legendary tagline,
A face is like a work of art. It deserves a great frame.
RAISE YOUR GLASSES!
40 years ago today, we unlocked the door of our shop on Melrose Avenue with little more than an idea to change the conversation about eyewear. Four decades later, it’s hard to describe how full, how forty-fied, we feel as we raise our glasses to thank you for your invaluable support.
We would not have arrived at this auspicious moment, nor would our optical dreams have been as vibrant, without you. The gemstone for a fortieth anniversary is the ruby, a jewel that is loved for the deep fire that burns within its heart. As we stand at the threshold of a gleaming new decade, our love for great glasses and those like you who translate them to the world only burns brighter.
With gratitude and good wishes,
Barbara, Gai, Margo, Rob
and all the l.a.Eyeworkers
The celebration continues as we unveil a new collection of designs for Spring 2020