When I ditched my Coke-bottle glasses for contacts twenty years ago, I never thought I’d wear frames again—during daylight hours, anyway. Until I discovered Friedrich’s Optik (480 Park Avenue; 212-688-5531), where I fell in love with a pair of glasses made from buffalo horn.
Friedrich’s stocks hundreds of classic styles in more than 200 colors, mostly from its own line. But the company is really known for its buffalo-horn frames. They’re made by hand in Palm Beach, the site of owner Friedrich Paulick’s first U.S. shop, which opened 25 years ago. Paulick’s daughter Brigitte runs the Park Avenue store.
I asked Brigitte about the difference between plastic and horn. “Would you rather wear plastic or leather shoes?” she said. “Cotton or polyester shirts? It’s a natural material that lasts longer if you take proper care of it. I’d never wear anything else.”
Quality comes at a price, of course. Plastic frames start at $325, but buffalo models range from $900 to $1,600. (Titanium is $400 and up, and eighteen-karat gold starts at $2,000.) Prescriptions can be handled the same day if the lenses are in stock, or within four days if not.
I’ve returned to Friedrich’s several times to test-drive a gorgeous pair of horn glasses that cost as much as an iBook (sadly, no sales). They’re a tough commitment to make. But if I do, these beauties are guaranteed to see the light of day.