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Undercover Eyewear: Sunglasses, Celebrities and Surveillance

Sunglasses through the decades... a form of disguise, designer vintage shades, and the future of anti-surveillance eyewear

Designer vintage sunglasses at ShopCurious

The History

Although necessary to shield against the intense rays of the Hollywood sun, it is claimed that celebrities popularized sunglasses by wearing them to hide their famous faces from public view. In this photograph Audrey Hepburn wears Oliver Goldsmith Manhattan sunglasses in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).

Audrey Hepburn wears Oliver Goldsmith Manhattan sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

By the 1970s, a common style for celebrity eyewear was the oversized frame – sufficiently enormous to render the wearer unidentifiable. Apart from Goldsmith, popular brands of the decade included Givenchy Paris and Silhouette.

Celebrity Style

The 1980s brought with them aviator frames and rimless shades. Large frames came back into vogue from the mid-1990s, and by the millennium year, futuristic shield sunglasses, which wrapped around the sides of the face, had become the ultimate celebrity disguise. Chanel made some of the most sought after models in this style of design.

Kim Kardashian wears shield sunglasses

The 2000s also saw a greater focus on individuality and eclecticism in fashion. Celebrities wanted unique accessories that were more like wearable works of art. Prada Baroque sunglasses became the go-to upper face covering in fashionable celebrity circles. Prada also released a crystal embellished ‘Ornate’ collection of these frames, a pair of which is currently available at ShopCurious.

Prada Baroque sunglasses

Slow Eyewear

The emergence of the slow fashion movement has resulted in greater demand for vintage sunglasses, including retro cat-eye frames. Designer vintage sunglasses have become collectors items, along with limited edition handcrafted ranges and collaborations by the likes of Mykita + Maison Martin Margiela.

Mykita + Maison Martin Margiela sunglasses

The Future

Looking ahead to sunglasses of the future, will the increase in surveillance make us all want to disguise ourselves from online and offline ‘followers’? New brands like Reflectacles offer shades with IR-lenses, made using specially formulated optical filters that absorb the near infrared spectrum critical for 3D facial mapping, eye-tracking and illumination on common infrared security cameras. The lenses not only shield eyes from infrared radiation, but also protect privacy from any device using laser or lamp to obtain eye biometrics for facial recognition purposes.

However, is there a possibility that the use of this sort of eyewear will eventually be regulated against, or even banned? If you’re curious about this, you may wish to read my recent article on the future of dress codes.

Are you?

Susan x

P.S. See our new Designer Vintage Sunglasses collection for gems from Prada, Givenchy, Chanel and more!

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