Courtney: Do you always wear your glasses? Palmer: Yes. Except in bed. – The Ipcress File (1965).
On the show
I talk to Peter Lynes managing director of Curry and Paxton. Peter talks about the relationship between the brand and it’s placement in iconic films such as The Ipcress File and The Italian Job. The podcast is available to listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify or in the player below.
Peter Lynes please introduce yourself.
I’m the Managing Director of Curry & Paxton, which is a brand that has clear parallels with Fred Perry, not least of which it is fundamentally British. It was established in 1876. It is the second oldest British eyewear brand, there is one that actually beats us, which is C.W. Dixey & Son of London, which is the eyewear that was worn by Winston Churchill.
The business has been in existence for 146 years, it has operated for 100 years at the very forefront of the British ophthalmic industry, which if you know anything about the British film industry, it was a global leader for a very, very long time, certainly through the latter part of the 19th century through the early part of the 20th century.
I always associate you bond and The Italian Job and Ipcress File. But is that where it ends? Or where it starts?
Probably one of the definitive reference points in the brand’s history is the association with Michael Caine and his character Harry Palmer, which he played three times in the Len Deighton films The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin, and Billion Dollar Brain. And you’ll know The Ipcress File actually actually won a BAFTA Award for Best Film when it came out.
Michael’s character, Harry Palmer has become entrenched in British popular culture and the image of Michael wearing the Yvan optical frames in the dark tortoise shell is one of the most enduring images of British film cinematic history. We’re very fortunate to have a poster boy of that ilk within our repertoire.
Was it a conscious choice by Michael Caine to wear Curry and Paxton glasses?
Yeah, it was. The story around his appropriation of the frame is a very interesting one. There was a thought originally that the reason why he (Michael Caine) wore glasses in The Ipcress File was to differentiate himself from Sean Connery’s James Bond. But actually his primary motivation was to create differentiation between himself and the Harry Palmer character.
Have you reached out to Michael Caine’s people at all?
We have had some contact with them. In the early days, when we first launched the business, there was a conversation with them. They approached us about producing some product, specifically for the 50th Anniversary of The Italian Job, a collaboration of sorts. Absolutely, we said. We’re very happy to get involved. Unfortunately, they approached us about two weeks before the event.
The development lead time is somewhat longer than that. So it would have been difficult to create something that was purely for the event. And unfortunately, they were a little demanding in terms of what they were expecting back from us in terms of remuneration. So we very politely said, Thank you. We’d love to, but no, thank you.
Does it irk you that other brands flagrantly rip off your designs?
I’ve come across this a lot in my career and my position on it is; mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery. If we’ve got a product that somebody else wants to refer to in such a obvious way, then we’ve got something that people want. I’d rather have that, than somebody that nobody was mimicking.
Throughout the month of October 2022 there is an exclusive 20% discount code on the Curry and Paxton website. Use code TAILORS20 at checkout.