The 70s era, an upcoming trend.
Since the 70s is going to be the hot tendency of 2023, it’s essential to know the history of a decade that inherited the freedom of the previous years, making trends that influenced that generation.
Today we perceive this mood in fashion, music, and other artistic fields. Let’s focus on sunglasses and let’s try to find which brands are more oriented on this.
The explosion of styles and colors that characterized the 1960s. It was possible thanks to an eclectic mix of music, film, and the changing social climate. In the 1970s, fashion became more sophisticated in design and materials, facilitated by exciting manufacturing innovations.
In 1964 the revolutionary new plastic Optyl (not to be confused with the company of the same name), was patented by Austrian manufacturer Wilhelm Anger of Vienna Line (later Carrera).
Glasses at the time were heavy, bulky, and easily broken and made primarily from acetate or nitrate – flawed materials. Optyl, on the other hand, had exceptional qualities. It was far lighter and the first plastic that could be injection-molded and retain memory. This meant that, when heated, it could be molded to fit any face and still keep its elasticity. It was coated to be resistant to both make-up and sweat, giving it a glossy finish and durability.
The vintage designs 70s
The vintage designs of Carrera, Dior, Dunhill, and Playboy sported by today’s fashionistas are in such good condition that they could be mistaken as brand new. Dyes could be added to the molds, resulting in rich color variations.
With the introduction of this exciting new material and replacing glass lenses with plastic ones, frames reached dramatic proportions, yet, for the first time, glasses were light to wear.
The soft, rounded shapes of the 1960s gradually became angular, and the bright colors subdued. By the 1970s, the emphasis was on frames that followed the contours of the face, earning them the nickname ‘face framers.
The transitional phase is epitomized in the Futura line of sunglasses, produced by Silhouette in the early to mid-1970s. Worn occasionally by Elton John in his early concerts. The Futura frame was realized as a limited edition and successfully fused the solid. Bright colors of the 1960s with the sumptuous, oversized, yet flattering frames of the early ’70s.
The use of bright colors was particularly dramatic in such large spectacles. As eyewear evolved, designers began considering shades that complemented skin tones, make-up and fashion trends.
In 1969 Christian Dior became the first couture house to bring out its line of sunglasses and has remained influential in eyewear decoration. Some of its designs are like jewelry in the use of intricate engraving and ornate gemstones since today.
Designers put more attention into observing make-up shades. It determined to open the sunglasses palette to tones like browns, grey, olive green, slate blues, and transparent ice-cream pastels. Sunglasses, in particular, continued to emerge as the accessory of choice in promoting brand names. A trend that American sportswear designer Claire McCardell had initiated in the 1950s.
Designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Diane von Furstenberg, Pierre Cardin, André Courrèges and Halston were quick to bring out their lines of sunglasses, which were readily adopted by the fashion icons of the day.
Jackie Onassis 70s
Jackie Onassis was incredibly influential in the American style. The distinctive oversized, round frames that she favored in the 1960s – a style still referred to as ‘Jackie Os’ – gave way to a square form in the 70s.
She spent a lot of time in Mykonos, Greece, where Aristotelis Onassis went as soon as he had time. By pure chance, the entrepreneur met on the Aegean Island a glasses craftsman. Kopajos, who realized a lot of solid shapes for him to avoid any incident the jealousy of Onassis’s women could have caused. Greek sunglasses weren’t on the edge of fashion but resulted in a resistant product.
Graduated glasses 70s
Graduated glasses were also introduced at this time. Lenses were literally dip-dyed in tanks so the variations in color and shading were infinite. The most common forms were dark at the top graduating to light at the bottom. They were used in various styles, foremost aviators branded as Ray-Ban.
The introduction of Ambermatic lenses during this decade created added allure for wearers of sunglasses. Commonly known as melting glass, the lenses adapted to changing light, becoming darker in bright conditions. Previously a style statement reserved for outdoor wear, sunglasses could now be worn anywhere.
The distinctions between prescription spectacles’ design and fashionable sunglasses also melted away, resulting in exciting new possibilities for frame shapes. Graduated sunglasses were also introduced at this time. Lenses were literally dip-dyed in tanks, so the variations in color and shading were infinite. The most common forms were dark at the top graduating to light at the bottom.
They were used in various styles of sunglasses: foremost among them. Perhaps, were Aviators, first developed by Bausch & Lomb in the 1930s and branded as Ray-Ban. Which were popularized by rock stars such as Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton.
The Aviator style
The Aviator style enjoyed renewed popularity in the 70s along with other fashions associated with the military. Wire and metallic silver and gold frames in all shapes and sizes became fashionable, particularly in menswear. Silhouette manufactured its colored metal frames in 1973.
Elvis Presley, who by the 70s had become as famous for his outlandish costumes as his music. Made his glitzy metallic sunglasses an integral part of his look. He is said to have come across the brand Nautic by Neostyle. His trademark outsized gold frames, at the Optique Boutique store in Las Vegas and ordered several pairs. Including some in seventeen-carat gold. The owner, Dennis Roberts, later became his personal optician and customized the sunglasses. With the initials EP incorporated into the bridge.
Many of Presley’s glasses were made by hand to his own specification and feature. A logo designed with a lightning bolt and the initials ‘TCB – Taking Care of Business. A motto used by Elvis and the name he gave his band on the arms of his glasses.
Neostyle’s ostentatious designs were favored by Telly Savalas, Ray Charles, and Don King, among others. John Lennon also made a statement through his choice of eyewear, but in a much more subtle way. The round, gold-rimmed granny glasses that became his trademark in the late 1960s. A replica pair of the yellow-tinted frames. He wore, Panto Model 45 by Algha, is held at the Beatles Museum, Liverpool.
As the 70s progressed, new pop music trends embraced the era’s ostentatious designs and took them to extremes. Glam rock embodied all that was flamboyant with artists such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, T.Rex, Roxy Music, New York Dolls and Elton John popularizing the glam look with outrageous clothes, make-up and hairstyles, and plenty of glitters.
Elton, arguably the most iconic spectacle wearer in pop music. It was inspired by 1950s rock and roll star Buddy Holly and claims to own over 20,000 pairs. His penchant for eccentric designs began in the mid-1970s. He wore frames decorated with ostrich feathers for his Captain Fantastic tour.
Elton John’s Husband, the Canadian director David Furnish, recently appreciated the greek manufacture of Kopajos. Knowing the passion that Sir Elton John has for sunglasses, he found in the greek sunglasses brand the quality and the energy of the 70s. Especially in those thick acetate frames that will soon be on trend again.
Other celebrities of the era known for their trademark bespectacled look include Michael Caine and Peter Sellers, who continued to sport the heavy framed style of glasses they had worn in the 1960s. Both were regulars at Oliver Goldsmith’s.
Goldsmith had his finger on the pulse, reflecting fashion trends and world events in his designs. In 1974, the year that punk rock first emerged, Vogue featured a beautiful Oliver Goldsmith design decorated with chains and safety pins, the paraphernalia of the movement.
Michael Caine’s appearance in Pulp (1972), in which he donned a crumpled white corduroy suit and heavy, black, angular frames with light pink lenses, was the epitome of 1970s cool.
In other films of this period, sunglasses were used to define a lead character. Clint Eastwood sports Baloramas by Ray-Ban in the crime thriller Dirty Harry (1971), while Steve McQueen wears his trademark Persol in his role as an armed robber in The Getaway (1972). Luxottica, which owns Persol, reissued the folding sunglasses in 2010 with an advertising campaign that featured film stills of McQueen wearing the 714 model.
Another film in which sunglasses had a starring role was Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Annie Hall (1977). Playing Annie’s neurotic boyfriend, Allen wore his trademark black frames, a style he barely changed over the years. He is reported to have said: ‘The two biggest myths about me are that I’m an intellectual, because I wear these glasses, and that I’m an artist because my films make money.’
With the arrival of disco, which reached its peak in the late 70s, came a fashion for shiny, skin-tight outfits while eyewear was characterized by electric rainbow colors and sleek shapes. Both New Wave and American hip-hop were also instrumental in stimulating new frame styles and a whole new way of wearing them.