The recent AW16 collections showed us that sunglasses aren’t just for summer but are a year-round accessory. And that doesn’t mean an 80s-style-too-cool-to-show your-eyes look that channels Magenta Devine or a (slightly younger) Anna Wintour. No, that refusal to remove your shades even at midnight is still a bit too, well, naff.Instead, the current year-round sunglasses trend is more about mirroring the rise of the global traveller, those people who can be somewhere sunny from January to December. It also impacts the rest of us as we can choose to take our holidays and so will be buying sunglasses, any time of year – whenever the cloud cover at home just gets too much to bear.
Another point the recent catwalk shows made is that statement eyewear is still the way to go. Maybe it’s inevitable given the price of designer eyewear and the major contribution sunglasses and prescription frames make to the bottom line of any high-end label these days. But it feels like OTT frames are being pushed by brands as much to justify the ever-rising price of such key items as they are to help drive fashion forwards.
Does this mean the end of understated designer sunglasses? Perhaps not. It’s surprising how fast fashion’s trendometer can be turned on its head when the time is right. For now though, OTT is riding high so let’s just enjoy the chance to really make an impact with our shades. Here are some of SS16’s influencers.
The 1950s-influenced cat’s eye is a key shape for SS16 whether in its most extreme form with full Dame Edna wings, or (slightly) more subtle with the sharp angle at the far edge adding width without soaring upwards. The cat’s eye effect is emphasised in many collections by the use of brand logos or design details like floral trims.
Think exotic flowers encrusting oversized frames, think a richly-toned bouquet decorating the arms of glasses or simply think tropical bright frames and you have what’s possibly the most exuberant SS16 trend. OK, it may be a trend driven mainly by Dolce & Gabbana but this is a key influencer label for eyewear so it can’t be ignored – even if some of the frames may even look too extreme even for someone like Anna Dello Russo.
Retro frames with a 1970s edge look strong from brands such as Gucci, Prada and Cavalli but they’re perhaps more Millennial than Boomer. I’m not given to following too many fashion rules but one that I think does hold true is that anyone who wore a trend first time round would probably do best to avoid its revival! This 70s look works perfectly as a geeky statement if you’re young(ish). But don’t take geek at face value. Add a cool edge with glitter-strewn frames, tortoiseshell or arm detail that marks these frames out as something different.
Boho influences are still riding high and come festival season, they’ll only get stronger. Combine rounded frames or psychedelic lens colours with a relaxed, retro-edge hairstyle. What’s different from the real thing 1960s-style is that many of these frames are bigger than the originals, which brings them squarely (or should that be roundly?) into the 2016 trend stream. This is perhaps the trend that’s the easiest for the high street to tap into so if you think designer label prices are a step too far, you could be in luck.
Sunglasses have always helped their wearers radiate an air of ‘don’t come too close’ and this year’s ultra-dark or mirrored lenses add to the effect. Ad campaign visuals back up the look with models staring almost-expressionless from the photos. Cara Delevingne sums up the look. Lured back to a one-off modelling job by Karl Lagerfeld, she pouts through the (frankly-could-have-been-better) Chanel shoot. The key styling detail for these sunglasses is the contrast between the lens and frame colours. Think a band of alternate colour across the top of the frames, a fine all-round rim or a statement graduated colour effect (the Chanel blue works perfectly with this year’s blue eyeliners and eyeshadows too).