It is said that things happen when they are not expected to happen. And, it must be true at least, sometimes. That is the beginning of the story of one of the most renowned models of sunglasses of all times: Aviator by Ray-Ban.
Aviator glasses: from the American Air Force to Hollywood's red carpet
Back in the 1930s, John Arthur Macready, lieutenant colonel of the Army Air Forces, felt tired and concerned given the harm that his eyes had to endure every time he had to fly. Despite the fact that he always used his goggles, which were a pair of huge, heavy and uncomfortable glasses, Macready could not but feel bothered about the sunrays. He was so worried that he decided to inform the American Army about the severe and irreparable injuries that everybody in the Air Forces would suffer if they were unable to find a solution.
It was when Bausch and Lomb, a modest –but innovative– optical products manufacturer from New York came on the scene. The US Army commissioned the company to design a device that solved the problems that sunrays caused on aviators. They could not continue to jeopardise the eyesight of their soldiers.
And it was how in 1937 appeared the Aviator, the first polarised sunglasses. They featured drop-shaped lenses in order to adapt to the oxygen masks and the helmet; they were of a dark green colour and had golden metallic frames and arms and a double-bar bridge. After that, army aviators could then fly at ease!
1937-style Aviator sunglasses with the classic green lenses. Ray-Ban.
That same year, Bausch and Lomb launched their own brand of glasses: Ray-Ban. What they did not imagine was the huge repercussion that their lenses would have for aviators. Their fame grew and grew until in 1944, during the WWII, General Douglas MacArthur disembarked in the Philippines wearing his Aviator glasses. That image travelled around the world! It was released by the press and published on the front page of Life magazine.
General Douglas MacArthur with his Aviator glasses by Ray-Ban.
Aviator glasses became more and more popular by adapting to the new times and improving their qualities. They appeared in films as emblematic as Apocalypse Now or Taxi Driver. However, their real boom occurred in the 1980s after Tom Cruise's role as an aviator of the US Army Air Forces in 'Top Gun'.
Tom Cruise with the Aviator glasses by Ray-Ban in a scene of 'Top Gun'.
Other stars that followed the Aviator trend were Sylvester Stallone or great singers as Fredy Mercury or Michael Jackson. Even Martin Scorsese asked Giorgio Armani to design a similar model to be used by Leonardo DiCaprio... in his film 'The Aviator'!
Aviator Evolve glasses with photochromic lenses. Ray-Ban.
And in the 21st century, the Aviator model keeps on renewing: new designs, materials and colours without losing the essence and the style that they were conferred in the 80s thanks to the fashion, film and music worlds.
Golden and black metallic Aviator-shaped glasses. Dita.
You are very likely to find an Aviator-style model of sunglasses on any brand's catalogue. Although they might have their own traits and features, they will keep the strong character of those legendary glasses. At Eyewear Concept, you can find from the most classical to the boldest models. Have a look!