Udo Proksch: Carrera Sunglasses Designer and Mass Murderer

In fashion design it’s usually the apparel designers who are colorful. It’s a selling point. I suspect some people trust an object or article of clothing more if the creator is theatrically artistic or off-center.

Usually eyewear designers are dismissed as quotidian types.

But ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Udo Proksch:

Udo Proksch and two friends wearing only sunglasses

Udo Proksch and two friends wearing only sunglasses

(In a way this photo is similar to my profile photo here. I don’t think stylist Tabitha Simmons used it as a conscious inspiration, though.)

His crime was blowing up a ship full of supposed uranium mining equipment he owned in 1977 to claim the $20 million it was insured for. Unfortunately he was unaware there were still six people on board when the time bomb detonated.

What was surprising was the involvement of Austrian officials in the scandal. As Wikipedia tells us: The ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs was sentenced for forging documents authenticating the cargo. Two other Ministers were dismissed for obstructing the investigations. The Minister of Defense, a shareholder in the Proksch firm, had given permission to deliver explosives to sabotage the ship and committed suicide when that became clear.

He was also chums with Ferdinand Marcos and stayed as a guest at his Presidential Palace while he was on the lam.

The case has spawned a movie, a musical and at least one book. A German language documentary on the life of Proksch was recently released. It was titled “Out Of Control”.

Maybe the documentary sheds some light on how someone goes from being Wilhelm Anger’s head designer at Carrera (his first important design job in 1956) to the heavily connected lunatic he apparently became. I hope it comes out with subtitles sometime. For now let’s take a look at some the work Proksch did for Viennaline and his own line, called “Serge Kirchhofer”. What might get lost in the shuffle here was that he was actually a very talented designer.

Viennaline model 1118 designed by Udo Proksch.   Early 1970s.

Viennaline model 1118 designed by Udo Proksch. Early 1970s.

Modernist sunglasses designed by murderer Udo Proksch.   This is the same style sported by the blonde on Proksch's right arm.

Modernist sunglasses designed by murderer Udo Proksch. This is the same style sported by the blonde on Proksch’s right arm.

Very nice Eero Saarinen looking Sunglasses by Udo Proksch.   This was the Serge Kirchhofer model 473.

Very nice Eero Saarinen looking Sunglasses by Udo Proksch. This was the Serge Kirchhofer model 473.

Lovely still lifes linked from Solaris Vintage.
.
.
.
Please scroll to the top of the sidebar to your right and SUBSCRIBE.

You may also like...

10 Responses

  1. Barry Santini says:

    Such an interesting treasure drove of facts, stories, trivia and information your blog is, Moss! I luv it! Keep it coming.

  2. You mentioned this project at the New York show, I’m really enjoying it.. Way to bring drama and suspense into eyewear… Love it.

  3. Nate says:

    Wow…great stuff here! Well not the crime, but pretty crazy story to come from the world of glasses 🙂

  4. Jim Magay says:

    Moss, I remember when Optyl was introduced and we were asked to do a TV show in Springfield Mass to demo how flexible yet with an amazing memory for it’s original shape – over the years we sold a lot of Optyl, Christian Dior, and Carrerra – never knew this story about Proksch

    • Moss Lipow says:

      Oh, there’s lots of interesting stuff. Some of the stories are nice, some not so nice. You should subscribe. I can’t promise murder and mayhem every day but I’ll try to be interesting.

      What TV show were you doing? What year was it? I’ve been to Springfield…

  5. Maddy Petrin says:

    Very interesting especially since I’ve got a bunch of Serge Kirshofer sunglasses in my garage! care to see a photo?

  6. klaus says:

    Udo Proksch was only until 1972 designer at W. Anger-Optyl, The insurance fraud with dead was 1977.

    • Moss Lipow says:

      One of the news sources suggested he still did work for Optyl until 1976. Actually surprisingly little material is available about the Lucona case in English. I was using translation programs to read some of the German and Austrian sources. What more do you know about it?

Leave a Reply