By  on August 6, 2008

The silver-dot triangles popping up on the temples of sunglasses around Manhattan may appear to be a new logo, but their geometric, low-profile look can be deceiving. And attached to more than one brand. The triangles signal the presence of a vintage-style, metal hinge known for its strength that’s been adopted by a handful of premium eyewear brands, like Oliver Goldsmith, Blinde and Beausoleil, for reasons ranging from the aesthetic to the technical. Originally popular in the Fifties, the hinge — seven barrels riveted to a frame’s temples by six pins in a plate — has staged a comeback long after people had tired of the once-common look. The rivets go through to the outside of the frames and form the three-dot triangles visible to passersby. “I just love the chunky, heavy quality of these hinges,” Claire Goldsmith, director of Oliver Goldsmith, said. “It’s a stylistic component. Sadly, there is no way to protect the use of these hinges, as they are a component rather than a logo or a brand marque.” With vintage eyewear staging a comeback in the past few years, “most of what you’re seeing around Manhattan [bearing the three-dot triangles] is probably vintage,” said Troy Schmidt, president and creative director of Optical Shop International, a Culver City, Calif., firm, which holds the international license for Blinde. “A lot of celebrities are wearing vintage frames.” Blinde itself claims celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna and Brad Pitt as customers of the brand begun in 1997. Oliver Goldsmith, relaunched in 2005 after 20 years of inactivity, was popular in the mid-20th century with stars including Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Michael Caine and John Lennon. These days, Blinde is incorporating the barrel-and-pin hinge into most of its frames, with an eye to artisanal craftsmanship and a strength greater than that provided by the pinless hinges and spring hinges predominant today, Schmidt explained. Both Blinde and Oliver Goldsmith frames are hand-made in Japan. Since its relaunch, Oliver Goldsmith has been re-creating its original styles from the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies and Eighties “exactly as they were made in their original day,” noted Goldsmith, great-granddaughter of Philip Oliver Goldsmith, who founded the London-based company in 1926.

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