The surreal & the Beautiful

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Chapter 1
The Story

Serge Kirchhofer c.1961 Vienna, was created by design genius and undisputed ‘enfant terrible’ of eyewear, udo proksch.

The eyewear and accessories collections marry the surreal with the beautiful to create the ultimate artistic utopia. Udo Proksch revolutionised glasses, elevating the status of optical frames from everyday necessity to bold fashion statement. Throughout his illustrious career he also turned his talents toward jewellery, printed silks and other accessories, exploring their potential as wearable art. This is the story of Serge Kirchhofer.


The Early Years

In 1934, Rudolf Proksch later known as Udo Proksch was born in Rostock, Germany. He was the eldest of five children.


Art School

After studying masterclasses in artistic and industrial design at the Academy of Applied Art, Vienna, 23-year-old Udo Proksch won a competition to design fashionable eyewear for Wilhelm Anger’s company, OPTYL. In the history of eyewear no other company has had a greater influence on the industry.


A Star Performer

Udo’s natural talent impressed Herr Anger, and he soon became OPTYL’s principle designer and creative director. He was responsible for the creation of Viennaline and Carrera; brands which dominated the eyewear world for decades. Its licensed brands, including Christian Dior, Dunhill, Playboy and Paloma Picasso set new standards for innovation and beauty.


The Surreal and the Beautiful

Whilst managing both the Carrera and Viennaline brands side by side, Udo created his own line ‘Serge Kirchhofer’, which became his personal playground. Described by Udo as a cross between Christian Dior and Salvador Dali, the Serge Kirchhofer collections were an inspired marriage of the surreal with the classic.

“Serge Kirchhofer is a Designer of beautiful and precious objects, a quality perfectionist, not merely an artist. He is comparable with Dior & Dali” Udo Proksch


Roland Pleterski

Udo made contact with the Austrian fashion photographer, Roland Pleterski, who often assisted for the iconic Irving Penn to shoot the Serge Kichhofer campaigns. Their collaboration lasted for many years.


Pushing Boundaries

In his Serge Kirchhofer designs Udo used real gold, silver and tortoise shell to create eyewear. he designed silk scarves and jewellery, his creations included the jewelled ‘Naked Dress’, the ‘Silver Shoe’ and the infamous ‘Gold Finger’ which inspired the Ian Fleming novel and subsequent James Bond film.

“They should demand something of the wearer they are not for every day use.” — Udo Proksch


The Art of Udo

Fascinated with the anatomy of human hearts and the mysticism of eyes, He drew fanatically, Creating a series of illustrations which were printed onto luxurious silk scarves. The collection was named ‘The Mystic Scarf of Eyes’.


The ‘Enfant Terrible’ of Eyewear

A relentless entrepreneur, Udo owned the infamous Demel patisserie and elite nightclub ‘Club 45’. heavily involved in politics, he was also known as a playboy at the centre of Vienna’s high society. Udo was a wildly imaginative, obsessive and highly troubled individual who thrived on a heady cocktail of high culture, but it was also a recipe for his own destruction.

There was a Duality to his style which expressed itself in every Frame Permeated all aspects of his work and even influenced his private life


The Darkness

Udo’s fame as a designer and savoir faire was eclipsed when an attempt at insurance fraud turned into a tragedy – notoriety prevailed. Udo evaded the law for over a decade before he was arrested and imprisoned until his death in 2001.

Udo’s ‘Fantasia’ drawings were created from the confines of prison.


The Discovery

The discovery of this archive after his death unearthed his life’s work. his inspirations, design drawings, marketing campaigns and photographs. At the age of 20, Udo asked his younger brother to record and document his life. One can only assume Udo understood his role as a visionary – This was an uncensored Archive that he fully intended to share with the world.

The archive contents contained 1000 frames and 6000 drawings. Also uncovered were his artworks – including the ‘Lover’s Eyes’ and ‘Erotic Postcard’ series.


Into the Light

The contents of the archive have inspired the new Serge Kirchhofer collections of eyewear, jewellery, accessories and art. Two years later Serge Kirchhofer relaunched with the collection ‘Into the Light’.