Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Frame Yourself

Via NY Press, Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels sports his Ultra Goliath sunglasses at the height of the band's fame, although he's commonly (mis)perceived as a Cazal man. Originating in the late 1970s or early 1980s, the Goliath is also favoured by famed horror filmmaker and Grandfather of the Zombie, George A. Romero and worn by Elliot Gould in the Ocean's 11 trilogy and Robert De Niro in Casino, as well as by the late flamboyant actor and game show host Charles Nelson Reilly. My online colleague Matthew of Tweed In The City owns a pair made by Cutler and Gross

   I feel sorry for those who don't know what they're missing in the eyeframe world. The folks sporting over-or-undersized, heavily logo'd plastic jobs of questionable quality certainly don't merit my envy

Cutler and Gross, via Sunglasses Shop

Francois Pinton; clients included Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis

   In today's world, for design, craftsmanship or both, I can think of around five names to count on; Oliver Peoples, Ben Sherman, Tom Ford, Alain Mikli and, of course, Cutler and Gross of London. Again, note that I'm not claiming each brand combines both design and craftsmanship, although most certainly do. If you think you've spotted an odd one out, you're correct; I just rather like the aesthetic that this mod institution continues to push, plus I'm sure we all know by now that I'm not consistently fussy about where I shop. I also admit a certain fondness for makers I'm not very familiar with such as Kata and Rochas

Via Hub Pages; well it would be remiss of me to leave her out, wouldn't it?

Ben Sherman, via Uncrate. They bring to mind a larger pair worn by Jim Hacker in Yes, Minister, although his were reading glasses

Serengeti sunglasses via Sunglasses Shop. The maker generally uses glass photochromatic lenses, making them highly valuable

   I've always liked the idea of signature sunglasses and yet I feel that such "One Sunglasses Only" people of style are limiting themselves a touch. Of course, those I am thinking of, such as Malcolm X, happen to be dead. Stevie Wonder is such a man with different styles, all pretty much iconic by virtue of his face and look(s), but tragically (crass as this may sound), he has never known how cool he appears

From Wikimedia, Malcolm X and his Ray Bans Clubmaster frames

See here for a heartfelt homage to Uncle Stevie's eyeframes tastes

Marianne Faithfull

The late Richard Merkin

   Typically, I like to go vintage; though not typically an aviators fan, I've owned two pairs in the past: one 1980s pair by Ferrari and a more recent pair from Ray-Ban. Speaking of which, bypass the current Ray-Ban range and seek out their classic older offerings, made with far more attention to detail and sturdiness by  founder company Bausch & Lomb. Like its fellow iconic eyewear brand, Persol, Ray-Ban is currently owned by the Luxottica company and really was better made around 30 years ago

   I'm also quite fond of oversized eyeframes; the nostalgic images evoked in my mind are of Jewish businessmen, British politicians, Mob members and old school rappers. Designer Antonio Azzuolo personally favours old Christian Dior frames and each of his presentations have featured his models in large deadstock sunglasses. To add some perspective, here's an informative archive post from the Beastie Boys' message board, mainly focusing on the infamous Cazal lines:

"Carl Zolinni starting making Cazal glasses in 1975. Hence the name "CAZAL." I have one of the first Cazal's ever from 1975. They sucked! Cazal started to get good around 1978. Then the "Cazzie Craze" hit in '82. People were dying for these glases much the way people were getting killed in Harlem for their Jordan 1's and 2's in the mid 80's. Optometrists in NYC kept them in the vault and it was real hush hush if you had them. Then the optometrists made so much in NYC in the 80's on these things they all retired in Florida in the late 80's, where many of these glasses can still be found to date

"A big misconception was people calling them "Cazzelle". People pronounced them like the Adidas shoe "Gazzelle." Not true. I met with the president of Cazal once and he said they are "CAZAL." Some people think Cazal started the big glasses craze of the late 70's but it was really Neostyle that hit it off with their "Nautic" line. Also, Ultra's Claudia Carlotti and Versace lines helped kick off their stardom. Ultra Palm is the US distributor for Cazal and made Versace big in the late '70s. Persols were more late '60s with their wraparound line, so I won't mention them much

"Peace out,
   Latterly, Cazal has (of course) accredited cachet amongst today's day-glo scenesters, who are neither mugged nor killed for theirs unlike the aforementioned actual trendsetters. Whilst iconic for a certain era, they aren't generally for me. I am, on the other hand, a fan of the abovementioned Neostyle, as well as Alpina, Vuarnet, Playboy and Dunhill in its Optyl-manufactured era (the link necessarily directs to the history of another likeable maker, Carrera)

   The wild exuberance, brash sizing and ornate stylings of these frames was a consequence of sunglasses moving towards statement status in the 1960s; my overall favourites - Ultra's own name range, including the abovementioned Goliath and other appropriately-yet-whimsically named frames, such as "Sudan," "Zeus" and "Rangoon" - tended to let their size and shape do the speaking. Ironically, the frames that currently best fit my face are a pair of modern Dunhills, but sometimes, comfort wins out. Still, one has to love the classics:


   Want a New Year's Resolution? Frame yourself

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