This month’s “Zyl Rules” and “Celluloid Heroes” features drifted me down memory lane to one of my first feature stories as Vision Monday’s frames editor. In 1996, VM was doing a bi-monthly magazine called SPEX. Having been hired in part for my relatively deep photo shoot experience as an art director at a fashion magazine, the directive was to do something dramatic and eye-catching with ophthalmic frames.

So I called in a bunch of product based on eyewear company lists provided by Gloria Nicola at VM’s sister publication 20/20. Safe to say I buzzed at least 30 vendors and within days (daze?) was reviewing nearly 500 pairs of glasses. I’m pretty quick with my edit process so fairly soon I had a select grouping of frames ready for review by the publisher and editorial director Marge Axelrad. That scrutiny isn’t necessary now but back then I was fresh to optical and barely knew the difference between a sunglass and an Rx (what-the-hell-is-that-!-?) frame. They loved my selection. The frames were colorful, bold and bountiful in terms of shape and size.

But there was a slight snag. I’d picked NO metal frames. Even just a short decade ago color was considered zyl’s domain-reasonfor- being. Metals were basically gold or silver or foiled with wimpy tortoise sheens. My rather naïve selectivity left little room for the relative cold opti-realm of metallurgy. I justified my selection by blurting out I was headlining the feature … Plasticville.

It worked. I held on to my new job and in the very next issue of SPEX then concentrated completely on recent metal frame tech innovations including my first experience with the twisting miracle of Flexon from Marchon.

That dual scenario of frame materials has intensified over these last few years. “Zyl (still) Rules” with dramatic forays of color while metal soars in tech and to reinforce THAT aspect of frame materials be sure to read Dave Chute’s sometimes biased-but-certainly ultra-informed “Facing the Future.” So welcome aboard as my frame-train-of-thought again rolls into Plasticville station. And attention passengers: This issue also marks the rejuvenated return of the (now bi-monthly) feature Lab Watch timed to coincide with this month’s all-important OLA conference. We also timed our annual L&T Lab Usage Survey for this important industry event.


James J. Spina