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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Sunglasses And Character Building

Eyewear is that part of fashion which can, if done correctly, elevate a person from one stratosphere to another. Most people over the course of their lives will probably wear two or three pairs of life defining or 'moment' sunglasses where perhaps we will always remember that person with those particular sunglasses. More importantly, every five years or so there will be a trend in sunglasses but not all people will suit that look and accordingly, some will be remembered as part of that wave, others will have to hold out and wait for the next trend to take hold. And then, amongst all these glasses are ones which have a life span over a number of generations.

For the sunglasses of a moment or period, I like to refer to them as 'zeitgeist frames'. If I can cast my mind back momentarily in the short life I have lived I can remember the original Ray Ban Wayfarers Tom Cruise wore in Risky Business. This was a moment. In the early 90's I recall Oakley Frogskins having a very big moment in a charge lead by the surfing community. In the mid 90's the wrap around 'Arnette'  'blowfly' frame came and went but somehow it stuck with Bono and a couple of decades later nobody has tapped him on the shoulder (it should be noted his current style is very much departed from those earliest models). The wrap around sunglasses lead a big charge with brands like Prada all the way into the early 00's. I don't know exactly when they lost their grip on the world but I am glad they did. During the late 90's there was also a period where Tom Ford was making sunglasses for Gucci. This is a very special time and there was a moment then where everything wrong seemed to right itself. Nowadays everybody seems to have an eyewear line so the kudos of having a range seems to have dissipated.

However, a chance encounter with one of our more esteemed customers for Le Noeud Papillon bow ties recently reinvigorated my interest for sunglasses. Upon entering my Studio, our customer, Peter, was wearing some of the most interesting sunglasses I have ever seen. He explained that they were hand-made sunglasses that he had commissioned with a Japanese designer (whose name escapes me). What really stuck with me was how his sunglasses created such an interesting character for me that from the moment we shook hands I was to some extent in awe and I had a list of questions as long as my arm that I wished to ask him. Sunglasses, after all, are one of those accessories which can immediately pique the curiosity of present company or even for that matter, people walking past.


I then begged Peter to let me take a photograph of the frames for you readers just so you can see how wonderful and intricate the details are. See below.

Details of Peter's sunglasses - hand-made acetate and metal sunglasses from Japan

The purpose of this post, however, was not just to talk about Peter's sunglasses. Having had a renewed interest in sunglasses I recently made an acquisition through Will Boehlke on the search for frames with character. Some time ago Will and I had intended to collaborate with an Australian designer to find a way to bring back the classic glasses of Aristotle Onassis. Onassis had always impressed me with his sunglasses, he had a huge character,  a bucket full of braggadocio and a penchant for the fine life. Since I had only the smallest image reference to go by, I quickly lost interest in the process. Will, however, did not. He managed to track down the company that made Onassis' sunglasses, Francois Pinton and now he stocks those very same character building sunglasses which you can buy here . However, it must be said, that when it comes to sunglasses, as I stated earlier in this passage, sometimes you either find your face can subscribe to the trend, other times, you simply have to hold off until your face and the trend match. In this instance, I am still not entirely sure whether my face matches these 'zeitgeist frames' or not. I will come back to you as to whether they are 'character building' for me. In the meantime, let me endorse the other glasses I own which I do think are worth your attention.
Onassis wearing his famed Francois Pinton sunglasses

Clockwise: 1. Graz gold metal sunglasses, 2, Bailey Nelson Mutual Friend Model, 3. Francois Pinton Onassis frames, 4. Bailey Nelson Yeats Model


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