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Me and my glasses

Alyson Magee

The eyewear designer on not realising her teenage dream of wearing glasses until later in life

05 Mar 2018 by John White

How many pairs of spectacles and sunglasses do you own?

I have collected countless pairs of glasses and sunglasses over the years, including my own designs and vintage frames that I have acquired. However, I tend to wear one pair of opticals day to day. Although, when I travel for work I take three or four pairs with me – a mixture of optical and sunglasses, depending on where I am travelling to. However, I never take too many as I am always losing them.

On a holiday, I pretty much take an entire case of sunglasses. My daughter used to steal as many as she could get her hands on before I had to have prescription lenses. I tend to go for investment pieces.

When did you first have your eyes tested?

I first had my eyes tested at 18 because I desperately wanted prescription frames. However, the optometrist – who was a good friend of my family – informed me I had perfect vision and I was fiercely disappointed. I didn’t realise my teenage dream of wearing glasses until a few years ago.

Can you describe your first pair of spectacles?

My first pair of frames was an acetate pair from my own collection. I still have them somewhere.

"I do pay attention to trends, but I would always rather be a leader than following the pack"

Who would you pick out as an eyewear style icon?

I see so many people with interesting faces wearing frames every day and I find them all inspiring, but if I had to pick one iconic glasses wearer; Michael Caine in the 80s – he wore these thick acetate frames, and I’ve always thought he looked great.

Has wearing glasses changed your outlook on the importance of eye care?

I have been an eyewear designer for more than three decades so the awareness has been there, but I only started wearing glasses relatively recently, and it definitely brought the importance of eye care to my attention in a different way. As soon as you start wearing glasses you have to have regular check-ups and the significance of it becomes more relevant. I also have two children so their health and wellbeing is top of my agenda – the responsibility of having a family certainly makes you more aware of this kind of thing; I took them both for their first eye tests before they were 10.

Do you wear contact lenses?

Never – I’m an eyewear designer, I like wearing glasses.

Where do you draw your design inspiration from?

Life experience, architecture, travel, time; that’s where I draw my creativity from – all experience helps develop an innate intuition, which now is where I draw inspiration from.

I have been in eyewear design since leaving art school. I studied post-graduate jewellery design and then the shift into eyewear was something that felt natural for me. Creativity is an ever-evolving process, always developing, so one collection is formed and this leads into the next, and so on. I share some of my collection inspirations on my Instagram page @AlysonMagee.

What does 'good design' mean to you?

‘Good’ design is a personal/subjective thing, but good design in my opinion is something that improves your day to day life, it can be something that you would have an emotional connection with. For me, it is considered, high quality, and something that lasts.

What eyewear trends are 'hot' today?

I do pay attention to trends, but I would always rather be a leader than following the pack. Trends come and go; I focus on intelligent design that lasts. I think if you are designing with that in mind then you are always on trend.


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