The Aviator frame – a staple in eyewear history with a rich past and a newfound resurgence in modern fashion. From its military origins to the big screen, in films such as Blow, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and recently in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico. The public has had an ongoing love affair with the nearly 100-year old silhouette for several decades, which has been reignited recently. Designers, such as Hedi Slimane, have sent aviators down the runway for a couple of decades now, with the most recent resurgence of the silhouette during his current tenure at Celine. And brands such as Jacques Marie Mage include several variations of the aviator in each release. Safe to say the aviator silhouette is here to stay.
Aviator sunglasses or “pilot’s glasses” were originally developed in 1935 by American Optical for military pilots to protect their eyes as a replacement for outdated pilot’s goggles. Their unique shape is inspired by pilot’s goggles, while offering a lighter weight and much more elegant silhouette that fit under headgear, introduced as the Army Air Corps D-1. While these newly designed glasses were popular amongst military officials, it wasn’t until World War II that the public was made known of the design. The war showed the shear horror, power and might the United States military represented, establishing a heroic portrayal of the brave soldiers on the front line. The first influence on public were the stark images captured by Newspaper photographers of General Douglas MacArthur landing on the beach in the Philippines as he sported a sleek pair of aviator frames. Giving way to the public’s craze with the silhouette.
Many pop culture and fashion icons have adopted the aviator sunglass over the years, engraining it into the brains of modern culture. From Hunter S. Thompson’s iconic shoot style aviators to the flamboyant and bold aviators worn by Diego Luna in Narcos: Mexico. The aviator sunglass can be as bold and in your face as these over the top character, yet harnessing the ability to look like an all-American classic when executed correctly. It serves as the perfect canvas to experiment with lens color and frame combinations, allowing for a universal frame that looks good on nearly anyone that throws it on. Be it understated or in pursuit of attention, the aviator can do it all.
Aviators come in many shapes, sizes and configurations these days. It seems as though every serious eyewear brand has their take on the classic silhouette. Our favorite picks at twelvesixtynine cover all the bases for your aviator needs. Two prime examples by Jacques Marie Mage are inspired by the Duke himself, Mr. Hunter S. Thompson. The Duke and Aspen sunglasses are similar in size, yet have noticeably different styling while still bearing the iconic ‘shooter’ nose bridge. The Duke is solely a titanium wire frame, fitted with an exaggerated teardrop lens. And the Aspen has acetate temples and a soft rounded lens, for a more approachable look. These two are the crème de la crème when it comes to aviators.
For more off the radar aviators with a slightly more approachable price tag, we’d opt for the Eyevan 762 and the Johann Wolff Zeppelin. The 762 being a unique Japanese take on the traditional aviator silhouette, outfitted with an ultra-lightweight titanium and acetate Windsor snap on pieces that give the silhouette a fresh appearance. On the other hand, the Zeppelin is a well-constructed spectacle staying true to the original aviator design, with a friendly price tag, serving as a great entry point into the style or an everyday carry that will withstand wear and tear effortlessly.
The aviator silhouette has solidified itself in the eyewear industry as a timeless design that will have moments of resurgence each decade. With one happening as you read this. We’ve got you covered on all your aviator needs at twelvesixtynine; carrying all shapes, sizes and configurations that you could imagine. Ensuring that we have the best of the best at every price point. Swing by our boutique in the heart of Coconut Grove and we’ll make sure to guide you into the perfect aviator.