Gaga About Glasses

Attorney Deborah Harkins showcases her personal style.

Displayed like treasured jewelry, attorney Deborah Duplechin Harkins lines up her glasses in neat rows. Each morning she gazes over them, deciding which pair feels right for the day.

There is nothing strange to Harkins about having dozens of glasses.

“Glasses are to be seen as well as to see,” she says as she smiles and carefully rearranges some of her favorites and then reverently picks up two pairs and adds, “Here is the last ones I purchased in Paris and these are my find from a recent trip to Las Vegas, where I walked the entire Caesar’s and Venetian Malls looking for new glasses. I wound up finding this exciting pair in an upscale funky designer shop in the City Mall that is located in the heart of the Casino District.”

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She places both pairs of glasses back on the shelf and points to her Las Vegas “jackpot” and explains, “These began life as sunglasses. When I got back to New Orleans I had them converted to regular glasses and I wear them with jeans or leather, or other fun concert clothes.”

Harkins’ passion for glasses began when she was in the ninth grade at St. Edmund High School in Eunice. “When I first learned that I needed to wear glasses, I immediately decided that if I was going to have to do so, I would make a statement with them.”

And she was true to her word. “My first glasses were large aviator style, strictly Jack Nicholson Easy Rider style,” she says. “I got the immediate reaction that they fit my personality and from then on I vowed that all of my glasses would do the same.”

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After graduating from University of Louisiana Lafayette (then known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana), Harkins decided to go to Loyola Law School. Today she practices with the McGlinchey Stafford law firm in New Orleans.

“My search for interesting glasses began in earnest after I graduated from Loyola,” she says. “I was able to travel more, and I found myself constantly looking for frames that were different – ones that offered a unique design or color. I discovered it was quite an adventure to pursue new designers from wherever I was visiting.”

“My glasses have been birthed from Paris and Rome, New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New Orleans, and many other places,” she says.

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But does she have a favorite pair?

“My favorite chic pair is from the Meatpacking District in New York City. I found them on my annual Christmas trek with Lenore Distefano, my roommate from law school and a good Italian girl with European tastes. I still visit her at her home in Short Hills, New Jersey, over the holidays for our annual cookie baking undertaking and we always end up shopping for new glasses. Lenore’s new find is a place called Moscot’s, an iconic shop in New York City with handmade frames from new and old designers.”

Harkins says her favorite French designer of frames is Alain Mikli.

“I love his colors and the metallic frames; they are lightweight and offer a sophisticated feel, without being too serious,” she says. “His frames live up to his reputation as maker of ‘jewelry for the eyes.’ I was pleased to recently find a pair of great frames by Mikli at Art & Eyes on Magazine Street right here in New Orleans.”

Frances Klein is another French designer Harkins enjoys. “He makes wonderful handmade glasses which are generally asymmetrical and offer a bit of whimsy,” she says.

Today the extensive Harkins collection offers a full spectrum of colors. “I love having so many options for day or night wear, business or fun, conservative or whimsical,” she says. “It means I will always have something to choose from depending on my mood or activity. It’s fun wearing different glasses; it offers me a different persona and feel, like wearing a Fifi wig. Since I have so many, I can ask myself on any given day, ‘Who do I want to be today?’ Today it could be Janis Joplin.”



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