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Me and my glasses

Flora McLean

The 100% Optical eyewear design competition judge from the Royal College of Arts (RCA) tells OT  about creating a strong look when designing eyewear

Flora McLean

How many pairs of spectacles and sunglasses do you own? 

I own 10 pairs.

Do you have a favourite pair, and can you describe what you love about them?

My favourite pair are my first ever pair of Cutler and Gross tortoiseshell frames, which are a 1950s style that I got from a cool store on Bond Street when I was 18. They looked like something Sophia Loren might have worn.

How long have you worn spectacles for, and what prompted you to go for your first eye test? 

About 10 years ago, I began to get headaches and was slow at reading, and I had poor concentration as a result.

Can you describe your first pair of spectacles? 

They were for reading and were very boring. They made me look like a secretary. They were from the High Street but they were made from a nice Italian material.

Who would you pick as your style icon and why? 

I love Carmen Miranda as she wore amazing hats and is Brazilian and funny.

"I look for hard workers who can see the potential of this opportunity as well as having fresh ideas and a fearless approach to design and make"

How do you think eyewear trends have changed over the years?

They come and go around and the past always seems to influence the future. I think people’s taste is getting more expressive and more confident.

What eyewear trends are exciting you at the moment? 

I like the ones that have been cut off and have a supra.

What do you consider when designing eyewear?

I like to think about making a strong look with graphic lines and a wild mistake of materials.

How would you describe the eyewear that you design?

It’s very bold and angular with good materials.

What's the best part of judging the 100% Optical and RCA design competition?

I like the surprise element. I also like watching the students learn new skills in making and also in communicating their ideas to the public.

What do you look for from students in the competition?

I look for hard workers who can see the potential of this opportunity as well as having fresh ideas and a fearless approach to design and make. I like to see students thinking for themselves, making smart decisions and planning their time.

What was the brief of this year’s competition?

We’ve called it the celebration of vision, so they were asked to think about celebrations that could take place all over the world and different festivals. What kind of face that might be, thinking about who might wear that frame and what they’re celebrating.