The Icons: Side-Shields

Driving a convertible car through winding lanes on a sunny day is considered a luxury by many. Arguably, it’s the associated glitz and glamour of racing events such as Le Mans which made driving eyewear a fashion statement in the roaring 20s. But it wasn’t always the case. Eyewear was worn for protection, performance and functionality. It was the age of side-shield frames for safety, exploring glaciers and motoring. Curry & Paxton was one of the pioneers of the side-shield frames over 100 years ago.

With expert guidance from The College of Optometrists, we were one of if not the first eyewear manufacturer to register a patent in the design of protective goggles in June 1939. These frames provided motorists with extra warmth, comfort and protection during a time when cars didn’t have the luxury of centralised heating or safety features they have today. 

The first of the original two side-shield designs featured fixed metal mesh sides, and only one arm and they were delicate. The lenses were also smaller and narrower. The second pair changed shape and in contrast to the metal mesh sides, they feature cognac leather side shields which are more flexible and contemporary. Drawing inspiration from the two and technological advances, the design of side-shield frames evolved. For instance, the side-shields fold inwards toward the nose pads to make them easier to store and both have been finished with touches of premium acetate for a contemporary finish. 

The metal side-shields are complemented with gunmetal grey arms, while the leather side-shield frames have bright gold arms. Both, of course, are finished with the three-dot logo which is on the tips of the earpieces. Both also come in a handsome black prism-shape case that’s collapsible and can easily be tucked into your pocket or into the glove compartment. While the originals weren’t deemed fashionable, there’s no doubt that these are statement frames for stylish folk.