Sunglasses have gone from the functional to the faddish in modern wardrobes. The first really popular ones were introduced by Bausch & Lomb shortly before World War II. These early Ray-Bans were spinoffs of the precise, beveled glasses fighter pilots used to protect their eyes from the glare of the sun. Thus, the basic “aviator” style, popularized by General Douglas MacArthur and other dashing military types, became the eyewear of choice for the Bugle Boy set.
But in the ensuing years, the reign of Ray-Ban was occasionally threatened when emerging pop culture figures sported other looks across their noses. When rock idol John Lennon wore “granny” glasses, a generation eager to make love not war saw the world through similarly tinted wire-rims. And rebellious Jack Nicholson made wearing sunglasses a national obsession. The beer-bellied astronaut in Terms of Endearment wore Wayfarers, and so did America.
Today, the sunglass cult is following a decidedly different type of hero. His motto is “Bop till you drop” and he moonlights every Tuesday night on ABC as David Addison opposite Cybill Shepherd’s Maddie Hayes. “Bruce Willis” sunglasses are matching Ray-Bans in popularity this year, report area sunglass shop owners, who got on top of the trend early and stocked their shelves with the black-topped frames. The glasses are manufactured by different companies and have different names, but they’re all known as “Bruce Willis” glasses, says SunVision manager Mary Lynn Warren, who carries lookalikes called “Jaggers” that retail for less than $20 at the West End shop.
If these “Bruce Willis” glasses look familiar, it’s because more than likely, your parents or grandparents wore eyeglasses similar to this year’s craze. These frames were very popular in the Thirties and Forties.
Another hot property this summer has been sensationalized by Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who sports iridescent Revo sunglasses in TV and billboard ads. Revos are tough to find and expensive when they’re finally located- they go for $129 a pair at Southwest Mountain. Lisa Randolph of Southwest Mountain says the Lovers Lane store currently has a waiting list for Revos, which are available in ariel blue, spectral violet, and solar orange.
Sunglass crazes, says Warren, hark from Hollywood and build to a national trend, buoyed by a celebrity’s popularity. “Last year,” says Janice Walters, owner of Sunglass World Optical at Preston Center, “it was definitely Don Johnson and Wayfarers again.” This year, Walters has stocked up on her “Bruce Willis” shades, retailing from $20 (for a knockoff) to $74 (for the real thing). The next new look to sweep Dallas, predicts Walters, will be the small, round, reflective sunglasses that Boy George wears in his latest video on MTV.