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Charles & Diana

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THE AVIATOR

The aviator is arguably the most famous eyewear shape ever manufactured.  It’s classic teardrop shape is instantly familiar and more significantly, there are few who haven’t owned a pair, and for good reason, it’s quite simply one of the most wearable and loved sunglasses on the planet.  

Originally developed by Bausch and Lomb in the early 20th century as an alternative to the fur-lined goggles worn by pilots, aviator sunglasses were the antidote to these under-performing safety glasses.  They were developed specifically for aviation (hence their moniker) and particularly for flying at excessive altitudes. Lighter and thinner than goggles, the teardrop shape runs along the cheek line and the dark (often) mirrored lenses protected the eyes from the blinding glare of the sun, helping to prevent headaches and to combat decreased visibility.  

Despite being designed for utility, these functional frames were predictably seized by fashion and by the 1940’s the aviator was a style coveted by all types of sports stars from fisherman to hunters – all looking for stylish eye protection whilst par-taking in sports. It wasn’t until WWII was over that the connection between the military and the aviator was properly established.  This was mainly down to the memorable newspaper imagery of an American war veteran named Douglas MacArthur who wore a pair.  By the 1950’s, the aviator was undoubtably a staple among the cultural style of both men and women.

Bausch and Lomb then went on to market the aviator as ‘Ray Ban’, a word that went on to define the product shape for aviator and to an extent, still does.  It’s taken on the identity of its original name, just as Hoover, Velcro and Google have. Fashion and celebrity powered this shape into intense popularity, the likes of Top Gun, Elvis Presley, Johnny Depp in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’…the list goes on. Of course, there are many variations of the aviator today, but the classic teardrop shape continues to be the most commercially successful style and is available in both sunglasses and spectacles.

Oliver Goldsmith first introduced the aviator to their collection around 1970. He then went on to manufacture a huge range of frames with this design backbone, including classics such as the Berwick and Carl, as seen on Princess Diana and Prince Charles in the 80’s, the RIO, GLYN and GOPAS.  Today, we have a fantastic selection of aviators in both our sun and optical lines, from the more traditional metal versions such as the COLT and the WISEGUY (which is a quintessential box aviator), to the architectural vibes of the Piero and 1940’s-001.  The contemporary shaping of the 2010 from the DECADES collection is particularly special.  It’s floating lenses and bold metal brow-bar updates this style staple into the 21st century.  

So, whatever your face-shape, age or sex, you can be sure that there is an aviator out there for you.  This time-honoured ‘power’ frame continues to be one of the most popular and successful designs and believe me, there’s no stopping it.  Why not explore our collection today?