While shades have existed in some form since the 1300s, it wasn't until the 1930s that the sunglasses craze took hold, as more and more Americans and Europeans went on beach vacations. In fact, Sam Foster sold the first modern-day shades, a pair of Foster Grants, on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1929. This trend exploded in the following decades as Hollywood stars and fashion icons such as Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis hid behind glamorous sunglasses, made by the likes of Persol and Emilio Pucci.
Men, meanwhile, took to wire-framed Ray-Ban "aviator" sunglasses favored by World War II heroes such as George S. Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur—this straight-laced military look was later popularized by counter-culture rockers such as Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. In the 1930s, the U.S. military commissioned Bausch & Lomb to make UV-blocking shades, and the company's Ray-Ban aviator glasses debuted in 1936, with anti-glare polarized-lens technology, invented by Edwin H. Land, of the Polaroid Corporation. In 1948, the first mirror-faced aviator sunglasses hit the scene, offering even greater protection from the sun, as well as the ability to watch people in secret.
Thanks to their air of mystery, dark shades became a symbol of cool detachment for beatniks and '50s jazz musicians. Perhaps the most iconic sunglass design is Ray-Ban's Wayfarer, launched in 1952, with its signature chunky frame. Mod and hippie fashions of the '60s demanded more whimsy, and John Lennon favored tiny tinted wire-framed spectacles called "teashades." Depending on the style, sunglasses came to signal urban sophistication, nefarious intent, or inscrutable intellect. Later fashionable looks like those by Alpina, Vuarnet, and Oakley originated as protective gear for athletes. Coveted vintage sunglasses include designs by Neostyle, Paloma Picasso, Oliver Peoples, Revo, Cazal, Matsuda, and Carrera Porsche.
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All eyes on independent sunglasses brandsFinancial Times, April 18th
“RVS Eyewear stemmed from our first company Rare Vintage Sunglasses [still active today], which started with me collecting rare vintage and antique sunglasses and frames from the 1930s to the 1980s,” says founder Vidal Erkohen. Uninspired by the ...Read more
April 17, 2014 in Fashion & Beauty // Made in Chelsea Season 7 Episode 2 Style ...Platform Online, April 17th
The first thing I fell in love with this week was Sophie's vintage sunglasses look. A pair like this is definitely on my wish list for summer and is what every girl needs to channel her inner Audrey Hepburn. Both fun and elegant these sunglasses will...Read more
As if! Candice Swanepoel does '90s chic with off-duty retro styleIrish Independent, April 16th
Her fluffy pink crop top, faded boyfriend jeans and vintage sunglasses combination is a far cry from her usually glamorous appearance on the runway. The 25-year-old is currently in London with fellow Angel Adriana Lima to promote the lingerie giant's ...Read more
Cara Santana wears silky orange shorts and has a sunny dispositionDaily Mail, April 8th
Accessorising with a brown leather handbag on her arm and a pair of vintage sunglasses, the stunning brunette smiled and waved to photographers. Sunny delight: Cara Santana hit the streets of West Hollywood on Monday wearing silky orange shorts and a ...Read more
Nicola Roberts lets her sleek hair do the talking in black outfitDaily Mail, April 4th
Hair she goes: Nicola Roberts stepped out in London on Friday with poker straight locks and an all-black outfit. Covering her make-up free face with a pair of vintage sunglasses, Nicola looked fresh-faced and radiant as she headed to her car...Read more
Lady Gaga: Floral and FabulousGossipCenter.com, April 2nd
Surrounded by fans, the “Applause” songstress opted for a 1980s-inspired floral top and trousers along with vintage sunglasses and a ginger wig as she arrived at the eatery. Gaga has been performing a string of shows at the legendary Roseland Ballroom, ...Read more
Status and Signifiers: Costume in There Will Be BloodClothes on Film, March 31st
Spends too much time analysing the clothes of fictional characters and too much money on vintage sunglasses. NOTE: Images have been screencapped from Blu-ray edition and cropped to better highlight costumes. © 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty...Read more
The Sunglass Fix Announces New Replacement Lenses for Vintage FramesPR Web (press release), March 25th
Thanks to new, precise equipment and specially trained technicians, The Sunglass Fix now manufactures and fits lenses for vintage sunglasses, including rare and unique models. "Our technicians are specially trained in custom cut and fitting lenses," ...Read more