Elvis, Elton and the Optique Boutique

Just lately I observed in a push release that ’70s rockstar Elton John was lending his name to a line of eyewear for Walmart and Sam’s Club. This seems like a pure match given that again in his heyday, the piano-pounding Brit was identified as much for his one of a kind taste in eyeglasses as for his tunes.

Not astonishingly, Elton’s extravagant specs did not occur from just any optician but from West Hollywood’s individual Optique Boutique. For stars who needed eyewear that mirrored their thoroughly crafted visuals or civilians who had a yen for the abnormal, this Sunset Plaza shop was the area to go. Proprietor Dennis Roberts drove a Ferrari and wore a TLC necklace gifted to him by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll so his perception of design and style was impeccable.

My very first excursion to the Optique Boutique was for the most pedestrian explanation attainable I had shed a screw from the pale blue shaded oversize eyeglasses I had introduced with me when I moved to L.A. in 1971. A close friend directed me to the nearest optician and it was appreciate at initially sight. When you are as nearsighted as I applied to be, finding the ideal eyeglasses to adorn your experience each individual working day was as important as possessing the best shoes.

Thankfully for me and others possessing weak vision but an superb perception of type, the eyeglass market had a short while ago identified how to put a prescription into oversize lenses, letting the availability of a lot larger and significantly less nerdy frames. I had two pairs of stylish glasses, a person pale blue and the exact same body in tortoise with gray lenses, from Rich’s department retail store in Atlanta but what I discovered on Sunset Boulevard was a full new world of alternatives. For the upcoming number of years, all of my prescription eyeglasses would come from Optique Boutique.

The partitions ended up protected with framed photographs of the shop’s celebrity customers wearing the glasses crafted for them. In the mid-seventies, frameless prescription eyeglasses came out, creating it possible to minimize the lenses into custom shapes like hearts, stars or something a customer could aspiration up. No lengthier were prescription eyeglasses confined to the small variety of types made available by manufacturers — alternatives have been restricted only by the buyer’s creativeness and pocketbook. For Elton John, there ended up no boundaries on both. 

Even in the glam rock ’70s, Elton John stood out for his flamboyant taste in costumes and eyeglasses, so Dennis Roberts performed a big role in crafting the singer’s graphic. Unquestionably the most incredible specs were being the rainbow-emblazoned pair with 18-carat gold and platinum frames established with 103 sparkling diamonds worn by John on a Cher Tv unique. The value tag for these glasses? $3,200. This was just one particular pair from John’s large selection of dozens of custom made eyeglasses from the Optique Boutique, such as just one sporting piano keys and an additional with his initials set off by twinkling lights.

A person of Roberts’s most loved shoppers was Elvis Presley, who acquired about 400 pairs of personalized sun shades from the Optique Boutique. In addition to the prescription figures he wore himself, Presley gifted his signature specs to friends, bandmates and his Memphis Mafia. The King’s trademark aviator style, recognised as the Neostyle “Nautic 2” had shaded purple lenses and was embellished with the Presley 14K gold “TCB” logos on each individual arm. Just one pair went for $43,125 at an auction in 2020.

An additional iconic piece of eyewear was the pair of custom aviators worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 film “LeMans.” These a single-of-a-form sunglasses highlighted tinted plastic lenses in gold-toned frames. A person of the store’s most significant spenders was Sammy Davis Jr., who ordered extra than 400 pairs of eyeglasses for the duration of the 70s.

When he wasn’t encouraging celebs craft their distinctive pictures, Dennis served common individuals like me style and design the fantastic pair of glasses to accommodate our have seems to be and personalities. I’ve never ever located an additional optician who could do a gradient like he did. Alas, I really don’t have any of my have Optique Boutique glasses now.

I checked out Elton’s line of eyewear at Sam’s Club and identified them relatively uninteresting compared to the true factor from the Optique Boutique, specifically at selling prices up to $500 but they manufactured me joyful about just one matter. When I turned suitable for Medicare a several a long time ago, I had my eyes corrected so I do not require prescription lenses anymore.

Katheleen Knopf

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