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Glasses culture

10 pairs of glasses that shaped the history of eyewear

The ‘Eskimo’ by Courrèges, white Christian Roth frames made famous by Kurt Cobain, Kanye West’s shutter shades… explore our (somewhat subjective) round-up of the iconic designs to have shaped the history of eyewear.

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    © Lunettes Inuits / Musée Canadien de l'Histoire

    Inuit snow goggles

    Between 100 and 600 A.D., the Inuit resorted to using some strange-looking shades made from caribou antler, whale bone and walrus ivory. However, their primitive design actually recalls those recently designed by Kanye West for his own brand, Yeezy.

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    © Lunettes Edward Scarlett

    First glasses with arms produced by Edward Scarlett

    The 18th century gave rise to the first pair of glasses with earhooks, invented by

    British optician Edward Scarlett; earlier frames just went without.

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    © Lunette "l'introuvable" de l'artiste Belge Marcel Mariën

    Marcel Mariën’s artistic take on glasses

    Midway between art and eyewear, ‘l’Introuvable’ by the Belgian surrealist Marcel Mariën, has left an indelible impression. These single lens (cyclopes) glasses from 1937 were developed after the artist broke his glasses.

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    © Lunettes Eskimo / Courrèges

    Eskimo glasses by Courrèges

    In the 60s, Eskimo glasses by Courrèges (the most popular label among actresses and singers of the era) caused a stir on account of their unusual shape, masking the eyes almost entirely. Salvador Dali was among those who wore them.

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    © Lunettes Christian Roth

    Kurt Cobain’s Christian Roth glasses

    In one very famous set of photos from the 90s, singer Kurt Cobain wore some white oval-shaped shades by Christian Roth. Endlessly copied ever since, even the designer re-released the iconic design.

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    © Lunettes "Over The Top" Oakley

    Oakley’s OTT frames

    At the Summer Olympics in Sydney in 2000, track and field athlete Ato Boldon wore Oakley’s Over The Top (OTT) frames and spectators went wild… some say they are “the coolest sunglasses ever made”.

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    © Lunettes Kanye West

    Kanye West’s custom shutter shades

    At the end of the 00s, Kanye West started wearing white shutter shades, largely hiding his eyes from view. The custom design by Alain Mikli has since been much copied. After the rapper embraced them, both Paris Hilton and Barack Obama were spotted wearing similar styles.

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    © Lunettes Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf’s Ojala sunglasses

    When Rihanna wore Andy Wolf’s Ojala sunglasses to Cannes in 2017, she showed the whole world that smaller styles were every bit as fashion-forward as oversize frames. The ‘Matrix’ look has been popular ever since.

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    © Lunettes Pharrell Williams / Louis Vuitton

    Pharrell Williams x Louis Vuitton sunglasses

    Rappers like flashy frames by labels like Gucci and Versace, but another pair that really stands out is the ‘Millionaire’, created by Louis Vuitton in collaboration with Pharrell Williams in 2007. In fact, the shades are so iconic they were revisited for spring 2019 by the famous luxury French fashion house.

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    © Jérémy Scott / Lunettes Linda Farrow

    Linda Farrow x Jeremy Scott ‘hands’ sunglasses

    These sunglasses from 2012 (which you can still pick up second hand, if you’re lucky) were created by Linda Farrow and Jeremy Scott, meaning that you can enjoy the cutting-edge creativity that characterizes both brands.

Écrit par Violaine Schutz