It was André Courrèges' fault. This was what an Italian journalist reviewing the latest sunglasses trends in 1965 stated on magazine Panorama. The French designer had revolutionised women's clothes, but he had also designed futuristic accessories such as white plastic sunglasses with slits following the curve of the eyelashes, part of his Spring/Summer 1965 collection.
The battle for the most extraordinary, extravagant and futuristic pair of sunglasses was officially open, the journalist wrote. There were sunglasses that looked like crossovers between Courrèges' and Lolita's infamous heart-shaped glasses; headband and aviator sunglasses; egg-shaped sunglasses, Finnish sunglasses in wood and even pince-nez dark glasses for women who wanted to pretend they lived in the 1800s while sunbathing.
One of the most original pair of shades was a sort of Plexiglas visor that formed a ribbon on the back of the head and gave the illusion of wearing a stylish hat rather than a pair of sunglasses.
Women loved the new sunglasses, but, the journalist warned, these huge screens and visors weren't really designed to cover up any imperfections. Their strength stood in the fact they were utterly useless. This statement about novelty glasses in the mid-'60s actually came to my mind while I was watching on TV bits and pieces of the 2008 Glastonbury Festival over the weekend and kept on spotting in the crowd people wearing window slit sunglasses.
Also known as shutter glasses for their design similar to window shutters, these sunglasses were rather popular in the '80s. In Italy they were so popular they were given out as presents with girly magazines. At least that's how I got mine, which I promptly threw out when the trend quickly died.
Unfortunately, though, the slit glasses are now back into fashion with a vengeance. This time is not André Courrèges' fault, but rapper Kanye West’s, who donned the sunglasses at various music festivals and also at MTV’s Video Music Awards a while back.
Celebrities picked up on the trend and so did ordinary people with the result that now the infamous sunglasses are available a bit everywhere: Urban Outfitters has re-christened them the “Shutter Aviators” and has a good selection in a few bright solid colours; Danish brand pa:nuu has also re-launched them as the ultimate item for this summer, possibly to be paired with T-shirts portraying the Statue of Liberty wearing the same glasses.
American brand Shutter Shade has instead taken the concept further offering this '80s cheap plastic piece of trash in a rainbow of colours, but also in limited edition such as gold, silver, clear and glow in the dark.
Shutter Shade also launched an obsessive blog that features all the latest news on these sunglasses that seem to have become the indispensable item for club kids and New Rave aficionados all over the world.
Now part of me wishes I hadn’t really thrown out my cheap plastic glasses (at least they would have been genuine vintage crap…), but another part of me hopes this street-infesting trend will die as it started as I never found these glasses extremely comfortable or stylish.
There's only a pair of sunglasses which I find covetable at the moment, Linda Farrow Vintage for Luella’s catwoman mask-like glasses and that's mainly not because of Luella or catwoman, but because they make me think of Enid's latex catwoman mask in Daniel Clowes' Ghost World. It's just a shame they don't give these ones for free with women magazines.