“A good pair of sunglasses will make you look hot no matter what,” said Claire Goldsmith—and she should know. The London-based designer is the great-granddaughter of Oliver Goldsmith, who became London’s leading creator of high-fashion frames when he launched his label in 1926. The still-family-owned-and-run brand was favored by Audrey Hepburn (remember those black stunners in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Oliver Goldsmith), Michael Caine, Peter Sellers, and Grace Kelly, who had 42 pairs. Dior and Givenchy commissioned Goldsmith to make custom shades for the runway, and Vidal Sassoon enlisted OG to design the iconic pyramid glasses, shaped specifically to complement the hairstylist’s arched bangs, featured in a 1969 campaign. “[My grandfather] broke the mold,” asserted Claire. “And he built himself a reputation of being the best.”
He may have been the best, but Goldsmith’s business, which in its prime turned out eccentric styles like butterfly frames, winking shades, and Union Jack glasses, shuttered in 1985. He was forced to close his doors due to the original logomania movement and the popularity of sunnies embellished with the emblems of big brands (Gucci, Versace, and the like). “When I was little, I actually recall saying to my dad, ‘Can you get me a pair of Gucci sunglasses?’ And I just remember his face—he was horrified,” Claire said.
Years later, Claire found herself studying marketing at college, where she specialized in heritage brands. “Finally, I kind of naturally came around to thinking, Well, hang on a minute, my family has a heritage brand. Why don’t we make glasses anymore?” She couldn’t find a single reason why the market should be deprived of OG’s fit, craftsmanship, and utterly unique wares, so in 2005, Claire put Olivier Goldsmith back on the board. Today, OG offers vintage shapes as part of its Icons series, as well as ready-to-wear and custom-fit styles, all of which are handmade in England (just as her grandfather would have insisted). “Someone described us as the ‘best-kept secret in eyewear,’” Claire recalled. “But I’d really like to be less of a secret.”
After five years of reworking her kin’s eccentric designs, Claire had racked up her fair share of inspiration, and in 2010, she decided it was time to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and bow her own brand. CG Eyewear, a dynamic line of made-in-Italy frames, was born. “CG is a whole lot more personal and emotional,” Claire told me. “I would say with Oliver Goldsmith, I’m a narrator. But with Claire, I’m much more sensitive. I think it’s nice to have a playground of sorts where we can produce glasses at the same level of quality and care, but aesthetically, we’re free to do what we want.” Naturally, she’s influenced by her grandfather’s handwriting, but Claire insists that her own collection is younger, more colorful, and “you can clearly see that it does not look vintage.”
As far as her hopes for her fledgling brand, Claire offered, “It would be so lovely to get people to start buying some really good, well-designed eyewear. It’s such an important accessory. People always say, ‘Oh, my God, your lenses are amazing [compared with big-name designer styles]. Like, noticeably better!’ We just have to catch [clients] first, and then we’ve got them for life.” Seeing as Oliver Goldsmith and Claire’s line are stocked at more than 300 points of sale worldwide, including Barneys New York, it seems more and more sunglass connoisseurs are falling into her well-lensed net.
Dressing for Fame: Kemal Harris, Stylist to Robin Wright and Idina Menzel, on Making Sure Her Clients Never Show Up Naked-------
If celebrity status is conferred in red-carpet appearances, then no actress today can compete without the help of just the right stylist. As Kerry Washington once told Glamour after she noticeably upped the sartorial ante, “There were a couple of actresses whom I felt were having the upper hand careerwise—because they knew how to work that red carpet.” A carefully crafted collaboration between stylist and client, the perfect look can create an indelible impact on agents, casting directors, and those of us watching from the sidelines. Straight from the epicenter of all things celebrity, we’ve asked some of the industry’s top stylists to share their experiences and impressions from their perch above Tinseltown. With our Dressing for Fame series, we bring you an exclusive, insider look at everything it takes to create those iconic moments captured by a million photo flashes.
As one part of the bicoastal styling team of Kemal & Karla, Kemal Harris brings her New York sensibility to her enviable roster of clients. Whether she’s shaping Robin Wright’s killer figure in a custom backless Ralph Lauren jumpsuit or helping Idina Menzel realize her red-carpet potential from behind that powerhouse voice, Harris has a singular aesthetic that draws on both contemporary and historical fashion. Here, she talks exclusively with Style.com about why styling as a pair keeps clients covered, how Feist changed her career, and why she’ll never be a yes-man.
How did you originally form your partnership with Karla Welch?
We met at fashion week through a mutual friend and always kept in touch. I was working with the singer Feist here in New York and connected her with Karla for her L.A. appearances, and through that connection, our bicoastal styling team was born.
What is the process like working as a duo?
Well, clients are never in one spot for very long. Their movie will premiere in L.A., and then they fly to NYC for all the press appearances. I live in NY and Karla is in L.A., so it certainly doesn’t hurt that no matter where they go, we can make sure they’re never naked.
Do you think there is a certain sensibility you’re expected to maintain as a New York-based stylist, as opposed to being in L.A.?
It’s a fact that editorial styling is much different than styling for the red carpet. They almost require different sides of the brain, and neither is easier than the other. Regardless of what medium you’re working in, I think it helps to have a very strong sense of your aesthetic, the sensibilities and requirements of your clients, and an almost preternatural grasp of how garments will photograph.
Do you think your clients expect something specific from you, and if so, what is that?
Personally, I think it’s so important for a stylist to be honest and straightforward with their clients. They’re depending on us to make sure they look their best on their big night. An effective stylist is not a yes-man.
Red dresses flooded the red carpet at the Emmy Awards on Monday night, but Natasha Lyonne’s ocean blue, mermaid-shaped number stood out. Lacy, long-sleeved, with a hint of ’80s prom, the dress looked stunning on the Orange Is the New Black bad girl and was one of our top picks of the night. The piece was custom-made by Opening Ceremony, so we asked cofounder and designer Humberto Leon to tell us a little about it.
How did you decide on the silhouette of the dress?Natasha originally fell in love with a dress from Opening Ceremony’s Pre-Fall 2013 runway, and we worked with Karla Welch, her stylist, to adapt it for the Emmys.
Tell us about making the dress.
The process of designing the dress for Natasha was really organic and felt natural. We’ve been friends for a long time and were so excited to have her wear Opening Ceremony at the Emmys.
Anyone else you thought looked particularly great Monday night?
We loved Mindy Kaling in Kenzo, of course! Carrie Brownstein also looked amazing.
Every day, Style.com’s editors reveal their current obsessions—and where to buy them. Check out today’s pick, below.
My Alaïa obsession is second only to my Comme des Garçons addiction, so when I received an e-mail today that Resurrection Vintage got in a black Alaïa zipper dress from 1986 (a favorite of Grace Jones’), my heart skipped a beat. To say this saucy little number, whose swirling zips are almost Charles Jamesian, is timeless would be a gross understatement. It’s going to look divine when paired with high-heeled booties or even my Prada combat boots. The only question remaining is, if I plan on donning it with the hood up, can I still wear a hat?
Alaïa black hooded zipper dress, price upon request. For more information, visit resurrectionvintage.com.
Stockholm fashion week began yesterday, and since we can’t be there to report on the collections, Swedish label Cheap Monday is live-streaming its show right here on Style.com. This season’s lineup, titled “Mindless Optimism,” is all about childish naïveté—think bows, puff sleeves, and scribbly prints—mixed with punk-inspired checked shirts and bleached unisex jeans. (You read that correctly: Even boys can wear the “Spray-On” skinny jeans.) Watch the live show, above, and check back later this week for our daily Stockholm street-style updates.