Sunglasses have been popular for almost a hundred years. They were first mass-produced at the end of the 1920s and were supplied to pilots in the Second World War. Since the end of the war, sunglasses have become iconic, in part thanks to the celebrity factor. Some of Hollywood’s elite will be remembered for how they looked in their designer glasses. The combination of celebrity and shades are the epitome of cool and has contributed to the wide popularity of sunglasses throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Wholesale sunglasses supplier Olympic Eyewear out of Utah says styles like the ones worn by all manner of famous people over the last 80 years are now ubiquitous.
The 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause rejected the cultural conformity and struck a chord with young rebellious men. James Dean, star of the film, wore Wayfarer sunglasses and made the Ray-Ban-made shades even more famous. Dean’s tragic death shortly before the film’s release only added to the notoriety.
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film starred Cary Grant, one of the most enigmatic actors of his generation. In the film, Grant’s character, bedecked in light brown frames and tinted lenses, is suave and almost impossibly cool. The exact make and model of the sunglasses has been debated. It was once thought that they were vintage Tart Arnels, but this seems to have been disputed by the last remaining relatives of the Tart empire.
Audrey Hepburn’s star quality shines through in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A mere six years after James Dean wore them in Rebel Without a Cause, Hepburn’s Holly Golightly made the Wayfarers her own. The image of Hepburn wearing Wayfarers continues to be popular to this day.
Released in 1980, Blues Brothers is a cult classic. Jake and Elwood Blues, played by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd respectively, wore Wayfarers throughout, along with their iconic suits and fedora style hats.
The eponymous terminator in James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi action classic is still potentially Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most iconic role. There is very little dialogue spoken by Arnie’s cyborg. The terminator is a character made famous mostly by its look and its actions. The sunglasses that form part of this look are a pair of Gargoyles Classics and are dark and bulky in shape.
Top Gun is perhaps the movie most closely associated with its characters wearing sunglasses and looking cool while doing it. A young Tom Cruise, as Maverick, sports a pair of aviators. Made for pilots shortly before the Second World War by Bausch & Lomb (later Ray-Ban), their place in a movie about U.S. Air Force fighter pilots fits perfectly with their history. Sales of aviators went up by 40% after the release of Top Gun.
The scene in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 classic, of the Reservoir Dogs leaving the diner, in suits and shades, is still remembered as one of the coolest shots of the decade. Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange wears Ray-Ban Clubmasters, and Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White, Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde, and Steve Buscemi’s Mr. Pink are seen in the iconic Wayfarers.
Men in Black was released in 1997 and made a movie star out of Will Smith. Smith’s Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones, as Agent K, looked instantly memorable in matching black suits. The sunglasses that Agent J wears are the Ray-Ban 2030 Predators, and as well as looking cool, they play an important part of the plot, shielding J and K’s eyes and preventing them from having their memory erased.