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 Cole Haan huarache sandals, De la Plante fits in well as owner of Gentlemen’s Breakfast, a new boutique in Laguna Beach that sells antique eyeglasses, sunglasses and accessories.
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 hides a 1909 candlestick phone. It’s reserved for those who spend enough money, according to De la Plante, who declined to say just how much is enough. A feather pen with ink jar caps off that 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.
“I love it here,” De la Plante said of Laguna Beach. “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 Furstenbergs that were handmade in Japan. There’s a pair of vintage Christian Dior sunglasses, which were crafted by hand in Austria or Germany, he noted. They sell for about $400 to $450 apiece. There’s even a $1,000 pair of handmade, cat’s-eye French sunglasses 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. He’s got those for about $150 plus the cost of lenses.
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. Some vintage glasses are made of cellulose acetate, a mix of cottonseed fibers, wood pulp fibers and plasticizers, he said.
“There actually are plant cells in the frame,” he said.
The result is a better frame that can be heated and bent to the face to reduce headaches and pinching.
As an optician, he can put prescription, shaded, colored or polarized lenses in them, something that he’s finding to be a plus in Laguna.
As for the shop’s name, it comes from weekly breakfast meetings De la Plante and his buddies used to have. They’d put on sports coats, sit around and discuss their lives, politics, social issues — “man therapy” as he calls it, a true gentlemen’s breakfast. But despite the name, women tend to gravitate to his shop too.
As for his personal collection, De la Plante has some pretty cool finds: white-gold 1930s American Optical aviators, old monocles from the 1920s and Civil War-era spectacles that are worth a lot, he said.
“I like all that haberdashery, like cuff links, fountain pens, watches,” he said. “All the stuff that gentlemen used to appreciate more.”
Gentlemen’s Breakfast, 1968 S. Coast Highway, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday; and by appointment Monday and Tuesday.