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

Top Shops: Artful menswear shopping options from Keanan Duffty
SFGate, September 18th

Time Frame “The ideal outpost for completing an authentic 'American Hustle' fashion statement,” Time Frame stocks iconic and ironic vintage sunglasses from the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Owner Curtis Hawes rounds out the collection with hard-to-find...Read more

Style on the streets at New York Fashion Week
mySanAntonio.com, September 9th

Carson Street Clothiers co-founder Brian Trunzo wears a Carson Street Clothiers suit, Salvatore Piccolo shirt, Missoni bag, Reebok classic sneakers, and vintage sunglasses on Day 1 of New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015 on September 4, 2014 in ...Read more

Yarn bombing proves therapeutic when mobility is limited
The Grand Rapids Press - MLive.com, August 24th

I would love to tell you that my new ride is a turquoise Vespa that I tool around on while sporting a pair of vintage sunglasses and a really cool head scarf, but the truth is I've settled for a much less sporty rental, a pair of discounted yoga pants...Read more

'To Life' ('A la vie'): Locarno Review
Hollywood Reporter, August 20th

(Benjamin Wangermee, with an appropriate puppy-dog look) who's eager to have sex with her (something her husband can't do since he was castrated in Auschwitz), while the shopping-addicted Clement, with huge (now vintage) sunglasses and ditto hair, ...Read more