Today our trans-Atlantic friends honour their independence with the 4th of July celebrations!. As a salute to the States we’ve put together a handy guide on all the American classic frames that have changed and defined the sunglasses industry from all the way across the pond.
From Tommy Hilfiger to Ralph Lauren, The Row to Calvin Klein, Shwood and Nike to of course, Ray Ban; God bless American shades! Here’s to the country that made eyewear the ultimate symbol of cool!
Iconic Moments in American Eyewear
James Dean was America’s Rebel Without A Cause; a silver screen hearthrob, a teenage pin-up and a style icon. His legacy is that timeless image of Dean in a flipped up collar jacket, smoking a cigarette pensively behind a pair of shades.
Marilyn Monroe was the ultimate star of the Hollywood Golden Age. With her hourglass figure, blonde curls and red lips; Marilyn was an icon long before her timely death at a young age. However, Marilyn lives on in movies, posters and pictures from that wonderful time. The star was once the most photographed woman on the planet and her Ray Ban shades served as a barrier between herself and the rest of the world.
One thing that always struck people about actress Elizabeth Taylor was her beautiful violet eyes. However, she was no stranger to donning a pair of 1950s cateye sunglasses during her luxurious summer vacations.
Jackie Onassis defined a generation and her very own frames throughout the 1960s and ’70s with her bold oversize round frames; eventually dubbed ‘the Jackie O’s’
John F. Kennedy was a man who was to lead America into a second Golden Age before he was tragically assassinated in 1963. His reputation lives on as does the memory of him donning Ray Ban sunglasses at countless public events where he was adored by thousands of young, hopeful Americans.
Few musicians are revered as much as Bob Dylan yet this peace loving musical genius became the voice of a generation. Frequently sporting shades to give a mysterious allure, Bob was the definition of defiant cool.
Author and Journalist Hunter S. Thompson was never far from a pair of 1970s style Aviators. His bucket hat, cigarette holder and shades are still hallmarks of his utterly unique and brilliant character.
There’s a reason Ray Ban got a reputation as the coolest shades around and it probably started somewhere with Blondie’s Debbie Harry. Debbie merged punk and disco in one sweep back in the 1970s and we like to think her dark shades simply attitude to her rebellious attitude.
Punks, movie-goers, actors and probably taxi drivers will remember the first time they ever saw Robert DiNero as Travis Bickle in cult classic Taxi Driver (1976). Newly shaven Mohican, army jacket and sunglasses in place, standing cross armed on a New York sidewalk; this was the moment the demure and silent cab driver Bickle had fully transformed into an angry thug ready to bring justice to the shady criminals of New York.
You can’t get any more American than Tom Cruise in Top Gun. The charismatic face of Eighties movies created a cult of cool with the young air pilot Maverick and his fellow crew. Served up with a dash of romance, an undertone of Patriotism, brotherly admiration and Aviator sunglasses; Top Gun reinvented the Aviator for a new generation.
A few years earlier in 1983, a young Cruise had given the High School generation a new face of rebellion. Sure. we had Ferris Bueller, Gary and Wyatt from Weird Science and the kids from Breakfast Club but none we admired as much as Joel Goodson who with his classic black Ray Ban sunglasses was unarguably the coolest kid in town.
As the famous line of John Landis’ cult musical 1980 hit goes “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.” HIT IT.
Madonna has had a thousand looks, countless hits and millions of fans worldwide. Yet even at 55 we always hark back to the 1980s power-cateyes in her video for Material Girl (1984)
If the Queen of Pop could do it, why not the king? Michael Jackson made many things infinitely cooler than they should be; dancing, moon-walking, fedora’s, sequin jackets, single gloves and white socks. Yet his sunglasses gave Michael the style of a true star in the making.
The Holy Grail of fancy dress costumes for any film-lover, the simple black wayfarers with a black suit donned by the gangsters in Reservoir Dogs are as iconic as the ‘ear scene’ in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 cult hit.
Michael Kors has fathered a new generation of stunning frames which as brought the US back in the luxury eyewear game. Whilst Italian, German and French competitors focus on classics and Ray Ban remain unchanged after over 70 years of success, Kors isn’t afraid to play with pattern, colour and silhouette’s for his unique and stunning eyewear collections.