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.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Ventagli.org

Ventagli.org

Anna Checcoli's homage to the beauty and art of hand fans ('ventagli,' in Italian). Use the left-hand nav to browse… [read review or visit site]

Antiquespectacles.com

Antiquespectacles.com

Dr. David Fleishman's comprehensive spectacles site (over 3500 images), in collaboration with museums around the wo… [read review or visit site]



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Recent News: Sunglasses

Source: Google News

What to Do in Rome
New York Times, March 4th

For a more satisfying market experience, head to MercatoMonti, where about two dozen vendors — an upstart collective of young designers, artisans and vintage dealers — sell everything from felt fedoras and vintage sunglasses to striped sweaters and ...Read more

Dress Up for Disneyland's Dapper Day This Sunday
OC Weekly (blog), February 26th

Ladies, dig up your grandma's vintage sunglasses and high-rise pencil skirts. Men, get groomed and put on your best bow-tie. It's time to bring Sunday's best to Dapper Day this Sunday on March 1, which will fill Disneyland with old-timey fashionistas...Read more

Luke James Hits the Stage at the Highline Ballroom
BET, February 26th

Around 10:15 p.m., Luke James, donning a white button-down and vintage sunglasses, made his way to the main stage with the backdrop of a full moon glowing behind him. He opened with a stripped down cover of the Michael Jackson classic "The Way You ...Read more

Top 5 Turn-On Artists for You and Your Valentine
Daily Nexus, February 15th

Brown's look at the 2015 Grammy's – a burgundy Pharrell hat, nose ring, round vintage sunglasses and all – was definitely not on-point. Let's try not to think of that. Let's instead throwback to when Brown had that classy R&B look, to when Chr-ihanna...Read more

Vintage sunglasses – a sense of mystery
Sydney Morning Herald, December 4th

Breakfast at Tiffany's, with Audrey Hepburn, was as memorable for her distinctive sunglasses as for her pearls and chic black dresses. Hepburn's wide-brimmed straw hat and oversized tortoiseshell glasses added a sense of mystery. The Hepburn look...Read more

Five of our favourite vintage sunglasses!
My Fashion Life, August 4th

If you're fed up of all the modern sunglasses that are appearing in the shops and online at the moment and want to take things back to basics, then we have what you're looking for. What would you say if we told you that you could get your hands and...Read more

Best Bets
New York Magazine, June 29th

How to Buy Vintage Sunglasses Three tips from J. Kirby Harris, owner of Vintage Optical, popping up at the Annex Markets lot (W. 25th St. nr. Broadway) weekends in late July. (Photo: Courtest of the vendor). 1. Do the optician check. “Inspect the...Read more

15 Unique Vintage Sunglasses
Care2.com, July 15th

So this week, I wanted to roundup the best of the best vintage sunglasses! If you dig the list but want to buy local, try scooping out your local thrift shop for options or Googling your town name + “vintage sunglasses” to see if you happen to have a...Read more