As with all areas of fashion, eye wear trends have followed the path of celebrity iconicity. With stars like Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon leading the way with their original eyewear pieces, and showing the true diversity of glasses design.
Historically vision correction was a necessity to those who could afford it, but now it is a must-have fashion accessory, worn by many people who don’t even require a prescription lens in the frame!
How such a huge transition came about is truly remarkable, and goes hand in hand with the rise of the celebrity culture throughout the 20th century.
Glasses began to make their first appearance as a fashion accessory around the turn of the 20th Century. The first examples of iconic eyewear are seen through the aristocratic Victorians – the men wore their monocles and the women carried their lorgnettes as a symbol of their status.
Image credits: SpecialK T51
The post Great War boom and the birth of Hollywood in the 1920s saw the rise of wide-spread consumerism, film distribution and celebrity culture…and the start of revolutionary fashion changes.
Image credits: drewby525
Icons such as Marilyn Monroe rewrote the rulebook when it came to cutting edge fashion. From her provocative dresses to her bold hair and makeup, she embodied the look set for an entire era – and her eye fashion was no different.
She wore the famous ‘cat’s eye glasses’ that have become synonymous with the 1950s – and feature in movies set in the decade like Grease starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
Image credits: shereemattson
One of the greatest icons of all time, Lennon’s music continues to have a huge influence on musicians today who draw inspiration from his lyrics and melodies. Though it may never have been his intention, he also became a huge inspiration for men’s fashion.
Lennon’s glasses were almost as famous as his beliefs and activism, and the circular frames have become associated with the whole ‘70s ‘hippy movement’.
The round frame design seen on Lennon in the ‘70s was also the style of choice for Elton John and famous rocker Ozzy Osborne…and later worn by fictional character Harry Potter!
Image credits: ryu3rdstrike
He may be a character of fiction but his glasses legacy is real. A fashion trend that is often overlooked (possibly because, looking back, nobody can understand how it was ever trendy) the over sized glasses were worn alongside big perms, too-big jumpers and leggings in the ‘80s.
Like all other fashion trends these have been recycled a few decades down the line, and have reappeared in the form of sunglasses. Oversized sunglasses were first seen on the likes of Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton on their series The Simple Life, and are now a common summer fashion commodity.
Image credits: jeffu14
The big heavy framed glasses seen on Mike Myers while playing ‘60’s ‘sex symbol’ in satirical movie Austin Powers were probably the only desirable thing about him.
Chunky rectangular frames have become synonymous with the ‘geek chic’ fashion of the 21st Century and are the hottest in the market at the minute.
Image credits: amber_darlin
More recent trends have seen celebrities adding ‘bling’ to their glasses, such as Kanye West’s famous shutter glasses. But with the fickle nature of fashion today, who knows what will be the next big trend… I’m sure the designers will look back to the icons for inspiration.
Steph loves to blog about fashion, and has a particular interest in eye fashion. She loves to look at the ways that fashion has evolved over the years. She writes for Lenstore, an online contact lens retailer that sells popular brands such as Focus Dailies.