Tastemaker: Larry Leight

Oliver Peoples creative director Larry Leight celebrates 25 years of being made in the shades

It was 1986 and Larry Leight was scouring L.A. for early U.S. eyewear brands like American Optical, Bausch and Lomb, and Ray-Ban to stock his new Sunset Plaza boutique, launched with brother Dennis. “We got lucky,” says Leight. “We found an estate sale with a room full of American brand frames in their unopened, original packaging in mint condition. I offered to buy the room.” 

While going through the inventory, he found a receipt belonging to the original owner, an eyewear distributor from the 1940s and ’50s named Oliver Peoples. “We were so excited,” says Leight, “we named the company after him.”

The Santa Monica native similarly stumbled upon his career path. “College wasn’t an option for me,” he says. “I needed to work right away to support myself.” He enrolled in an optician program at the old downtown campus of L.A. City College. He then worked in a lab, cutting and shaping lenses, and later as a salesman and buyer for a high-end optical boutique. “As a buyer, I learned why companies were making certain styles,” says Leight, “and as a salesman, I knew what kinds sold. And those two didn’t always match up.” With his own line Leight bridges the gap, embracing the spectacled icons of the past and giving them a modern twist.