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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Glasses of Palin catch eye of experts

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Georgeann Kohn, owner of The Optical Shop on Central Avenue, models the designer style. Georgeann Kohn, owner of The Optical Shop on Central Avenue, models the designer style.
THE BLADE/LORI KING Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made all kinds of political statements during her acceptance speech Wednesday night, but the fashion statement she made with her imported glasses is what dominated discussion among local eyewear professionals.

We were just talking about that, said Judy Sulier, a certified optician at Pinnacle Eye Group in suburban Bedford Township. I was going to go online to pull it up and see what it would take to get it into the office, because I m sure people will be inquiring about it.

Cathy Ashner, an optical technician with the Maumee Center for Eyes, in Arrowhead Park, agreed that John McCain s choice for vice president made a good fashion statement with her glasses during her prime-time acceptance speech. She wears them very well. They re very unique.

Mrs. Palin, the governor of Alaska, wears customized glasses and frames from Japanese designer Kazuo Kawasaki. The high-end eyewear the prices start at $600 are frame less and allow the customer to choose from a nearly limitless variety of lens shapes.

And in Toledo, they are sold at just one place: The Optical Shop, in the Cricket West Shopping Center on Central Avenue. Yesterday, owner Georgeann Kohn said she had received just a couple inquiries from potential customers about copying Mrs. Palin s spectacles, but she was excited that a female politician was brave enough to keep her glasses on in front of the cameras.

This is going to be a big deal. Thank God somebody got out there with a pair of glasses on, Ms. Kohn said.

Ms. Kohn said her shop has sold Kawasaki eyewear for more than a decade.

There are many, many people out there wearing Kawasaki. It s been a wonderful, wonderful line for us, she said.

What makes the designer unusual and popular, she explained, is the manner in which the glasses are customized.

After choosing a frame style, the customer can choose from among a large variety of lens sizes and shapes.

This isn t a frame you pick off the rack, Ms. Kohn said. We have clients [who] have great fun with them, she said.

The North American distributor of the glasses, Italee Optics Inc., of Los Angeles, has increased its imports of the frames in response to Mrs. Palin s appearance and the fashion firestorm it ignited, a company manager said yesterday.

Ms. Kohn said the GOP candidate s appearance could have a long-term impact on facial fashion sense.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:lvellequette@theblade.comor 419-724-6091.



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