Always the perfect 'Gentlemen'

New shop offers rare, antique eye glasses and sunglasses for men and women. It's the second shop for the optician, now an entrepreneur.

May 03, 2012|By Alisha Gomez, Special to the Coastline Pilot
  • Van de la Plante sits next a line of his stylish vintage glass frames on display in the Gentlemen's Breakfast boutique in Laguna Beach.
Van de la Plante sits next a line of his stylish vintage… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Thirty-four-year-old Van de la Plante looks every bit the gentleman.

Sporting a beige linen resort suit, a green Cuban Guayabera cigar shirt and Huarache Cole Haan sandals, de la Plante fits in well as owner of Gentlemen's Breakfast, a new boutique that sells antique eye glasses, sunglasses and accessories at 1968 S. Coast Hwy.

The small shop, splattered in bitter chocolate and beige tones, is decorated with manly finds and furnishings. Antique crystal decanters sit on an old desk, filled with scotch and ready for the pour.

A vintage bourbon flask is disguised as a "1909 candlestick phone." It's reserved for those who spend enough money, according to de la Plante, who declined to give an amount. A feather pen with ink jar caps off a rich, old-world look.

It's the second such boutique for the entrepreneur and optician, who opened his first one in Echo Park in February 2010.


He spent months searching for the right spot. He said Laguna Beach is the perfect mix of beach, arts and community — a place where he and his wife could put some roots, raise a family.

He opened the store in March.

"I love it here," said de la Plante. "My wife and I wanted to live in a beach town that's interesting. We just love how there are tons of artists here."

At Gentlemen's Breakfast, you'll find B&L Ray Bans that were handmade in Australia and vintage Diane von Furstenberg's that handmade in Japan.

There's a pair of vintage Christian Dior sunglasses, which were crafted by hand in Austria or Germany. They sell for about $400 to $450 apiece, depending on which pair.

There's even a $1,000 pair of handmade, cat-eye French sunglasses that are straight out of the 1950s.

And don't forget the 1960s prison-issued glasses that inmates received so they couldn't "shank each other," he said.

Yep, he's got those for about $150 plus cost of lenses.

Being an optician is a bit off the beaten path for de la Plante. He grew up in a family of artists. His father is a blues musician and painter. His mother is a painter. Even his brother and sister are artist types.

"No one is an optician, let alone in retail," he said.

Part of his love of antique glasses, he said, comes from the fact that he has sold practically every brand you can think of in the past eight years working as an optician for various stores.

There is something to be said about vintage frames, de la Plante would argue. Antique frames were handmade in limited production versus the mass production techniques employed by most eyewear makers today.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles