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April 17 2014

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Quiet, Please

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For its first New York fashion week presentation, do-gooding eyewear line Warby Parker summoned showgoers to 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. But the destination wasn’t Bryant Park, as of old; it was, oddly enough, the New York Public Library. In the Main Reading Room of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, patrons thumbed books as usual. Or not quite as usual. Along two tables at the back, rows of bespectacled men and women read tomes with matching, bright blue colors.

The motley crew of models—some professional, some friends of the brand, including stylist Aya Kanai and Tumblr fashion director Rich Tong—showed off the new collection of optical glasses, shades, and one monocle. The books they were reading identified the individual frames: Everett for a square, Clark Kent-ish style, and Monroe for a circular, sixties shape.

The presentation—which was technically rogue, having not been cleared by the powers of the New York Public Library—was a homecoming of sorts. “We came up with the name Warby Parker from an exhibit at the library,” Dave Gilboa, who co-founded the line with Neil Blumenthal, explained. (It’s derived from two names taken from Jack Keroauc’s writings and diaries, which were on display.)

Andy Spade and Anthony Sperduti of Partners & Spade helped put the event together and were on hand to (quietly) take it in. Is this the first illegal installation they’d engineered, we wondered? “No,” said Sperdutti, “but it’s one of the better ones.” And if the law intervenes? “Neil’s gonna take the fall,” Gilboa laughed.

Photo: Courtesy of Warby Parker

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