Out of all of the sunglasses and optical frames in our offering, there are few that compete with the Bridewell when it comes to having a cultural legacy and timeless appeal.
It’s one of our best sellers, and we like to think of it being perfectly balanced with a design language that feels modern despite being rooted in the 1960s. Sleek and considered, it has a shallow profile that doesn’t attract attention, a smooth bridge that sharply meets the base of the frame and sweeping tabs which join deep temples. Then, there’s the instantly recognisable three-dot hinge for some artful decoration that instantly reminds you of its cultural relevance.
The reason why Bridewell has such cultural importance is that London’s very own Sir Michael Caine consistently wore this exact style of frame throughout the swinging sixties. Caine’s body of work spans an astonishing eight decades, however the 1960s are without doubt the era for which he’s renowned for and this frame served him as an accessory to his natural swagger and sense of style.
Out of all of Caine’s performances in the 1960s, the most obvious performance is, of course, The Italian Job which saw out the decade in style with its release in 1969. Its one-liners, uplifting and sing-along score, charming set designs and cliff-hanger ending are all ingredients as to why it’s one of Britain’s finest contributions to cinema. However, the film is renowned for being a handy lesson in style, with soft and timeless tailoring with sixties glamour that’s put together with a simplistic approach.
Although brief, Michael Caine wears this style of frame as a sunglass in the airport in Turin as he’s trying to evade the Mafia whilst his master plan is coming to fruition. Keeping a low profile, he wears a beige, single-breasted linen suit with a striped cotton shirt and a medallion print tie. It’s easily one of the most iconic demonstrations of cinematic tailoring, and it just so happened to cement this frame's legacy as ‘The Italian Job Sunglasses’.
While The Italian Job came at the end of the decade, Caine was in fact wearing this frame from as early as 1965, which is when he starred in The Ipcress File. The first in a trio of spy films written by Len Deighton, Caine wore the frame as a pair of optical glasses. This gave him a different look to his brand of cool in The Italian Job – serious, intelligent yet confident. A year later, he appeared in Funeral in Berlin (1966), which was then followed up by Billion-Dollar Brain in 1967. These are very much lesser-known films compared to The Italian Job but all the while still iconic and important when looking at his canon of work.
Off-screen Caine was rarely without this style of frame as he flirted his way around fashionable parts of London and Los Angeles. Whether or not they helped him secure his then girlfriend Blanca Pérez-Mora Macías, who later became Bianca Jagger, will never be confirmed however there’s a good case for it.
As an icon, Caine was always immaculately dressed and favoured a simple approach to curating his wardrobe, filling it with plain suits and sports jackets which were effortlessly paired with button-down shirts and chic rollnecks. While some may consider it boring, his wares were elevated through his charming and cocksure attitude and finished with his go-to frames that made his presence even more known.