Footwear, Accessories, Millinery & Eyewear
Ely Yili Cao
Ely Yili Cao, a designer who specialises in jewellery, eyewear and accessories, an authorized gemmologist and appraiser, earned her BA (Hon) degree in Jewellery Design, at the Central Saint Martins' College of Art and Design, finished gemmologic study from GIA with scholarship, and recently graduated from the Royal College of Art fashion programme, specialising in accessories and eyewear.
Her design and craft skills have been selected and awarded worldwide — by organizations including The Goldsmiths’ Centre, The Goldsmiths' Craft and Design Council in the UK, Gemological Institute of America in the US, Barcelona Art Jewellery & Objects (JOYA) in Spain; and by commercial companies including The Leatherseller's Company, Theo Fennell and William Morris London.
Eyewear has only been seriously taken on board by the fashion houses in the last few decades, and was placed in the background for the whole last century. In fact, we can take the NHS as the epitome of the whole picture. The National Health Service’s range of glasses was a historical phenomenon particularly between 1948 and 1985, and people’s choice of spectacle frames was limited within that range. Even though eyewear is a necessary equipment to many, glasses were still universally hated as the side-effect of the social stigma attached to state-subsidised medical appliances. Still, some of those universally loathed NHS frames have survived to the present day due to their high quality, and have now taken on a new identity as desirable retro-chic eyewear.
People’s appreciation of glasses has changed dramatically very recently, the social status of eyewear has moved upwards. In some cases, they are no less expensive than any other high-end luxury items. I am using luxury as a perspective, and high-end jewellery as a platform, incorporating high-tech to convey and explore how eyewear has infiltrated into people’s dressing room, and changed its identity from a symbol of impairment to a fashion statement.