The Vintage Viennaline Cheat Sheet
|VL initial in italics.
|Groundbreaking silhouettes which push Optyl to its limits.
|Look Out For
|1364 butterfly frame.
Vienna isn't what it used to be.
Viennaline was founded in the late 1950s by eyewear legend Wilhelm Anger. Anger along with Udo Proksch built Viennaline up into a dominant force in the world of glasses frames. The history of the brand is one of the most intriguing of all the vintage eyewear companies available to shop at Ed & Sarna Vintage Eyewear. It's a commonly held assumption that the true eccentric characters in fashion are devoted to clothing, but Udo Proksch's life had so many plot twists we can barely scratch the surface in this post.
When you think of Vienna today your mind drifts to pastries and a modern fairly run of the mill European city. However, Vienna of the 1950s and throughout the cold war was a place of drama and intrigue, a place for spies to trade secrets in smokey cafes and bars. It was within this cultural context that Viennaline was formed so it should be no surprise that one of the primary protagonists got caught up in his own Viennese waltz.
Pushing material and aesthetics to the limits.
Udo Proksch was hired by Wilhelm Anger straight after he graduated from the Academy of Applied Art in Vienna. Proksch entered and won a design competition run by Optyl focussed on fashionable eyewear design. It didn't take long for the talented Proksch to rise through the ranks at Optyl and by 1957 he was the lead designer responsible for the Viennaline and Carrera brands.
Anger's development of the Optyl material, with it's lightweight, durable and hypoallergenic properties would lead to a revolution in the eyewear industry. When this new wonder material was teamed with Udo Proksch's design flair the days of boring functional eyewear were numbered. The huge success of the first Viennaline models released, the Gigi and Alt-Wien was a sign of things to come with the Gigi frame alone selling over 15 million units. Over the following decades, Viennaline was one of the most prolific frame manufacturers in the world and they helped to popularise the cat-eye and butterfly frame styles. In our selection of Viennaline glasses and sunglasses, we focus on the fun that eyewear can bring to your style.
The Enfant Terrible.
As Carrera-Optyl grew under Wilhelm Anger's stewardship so Udo Proksch's wealth grew in tandem, he was a notorious playboy known across the globe. Yet as well as being married 3 times and being a prolific eyewear designer he was also a serial entrepreneur with business interests in many areas. He ran club 45 above the Demel cafe where Viennese high society would mingle and party. He built up a number of successful enterprises during the 1960s and 70s using his charisma, charm and considerable design genius. Then in 1977 at the height of his powers and ego, disaster struck.
A shipping vessel, the Lukona, owned by Proksch sank over the Indian ocean killing all 6 people on board. Proksch falsely claimed that there had been valuable uranium mining equipment being carried as cargo aboard the ship and he tried to process a $20 million dollar insurance claim. However, once investigations were pursued it was found that Udo had set up timed explosives aboard the ship and had in fact murdered 6 people in pursuit of the fraudulent insurance claim. It took many years for the truth regarding the Lukona to come out as Proksch had developed and nurtured a number of connections within Austrian political circles. When the journalists Gerald Friehofer and Hans Pretterebner started to reinvestigate the case, 10 years after the ship sank, the authorities had to start to take some action. This caused Udo to go on the run but ever the eccentric he found refuge with Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos in Manilla.
Proksch went on to evade police for a number of years through multiple rounds of plastic surgery but upon the death of his daughter, Anna, he was arrested when attempting to transit through Vienna airport. In 1991 he was convicted of murder and sent to prison where he would eventually die in 2001. If you want to know more about his crazy life then watch the biographical german language movie Out of Control.
Restoring the Viennaline legacy.
The descent of the lead designer to madness and murder had a major effect on the Viennaline image, as the Berlin wall fell and the cold war thawed, it would mark the end of an era for the brand. At Ed & Sarna vintage we have some of the finest examples of Viennalines unique take on eyewear aesthetic. Take a look through our extensive collection of new old stock vintage Viennaline frames by clicking the link below.