As far as I know these were the first Christian Dior sunglasses made of optyl, the miracle resin that was supposed to supplant cellulose acetate. They date from about 1969.
Wilhelm Anger, the inventor of optyl had taken over the Dior license from Tura in 1966. Optyl apparently wasn’t ready for commercial production yet, so the earliest Austrian-made Dior sunglasses were actually made of acetate.
There’s something about old style protective eyewear that projects a grander air of adventure than the current stuff. Who cares about effectiveness? It’s kind of like comparing the look of a leather reefer coat and breeches to one of the current armored motorcycle suits which, with sponsorship patches and bright colors, sort of resemble clown suits.
A fellow asked me recently about the first appearance of octagonal eyeglasses. He had thought they were an aesthetic mutation of the 1920s which flourished and declined before WWII. This is not so. Octagonal eyeglasses were first seen in Continental Europe early in the 19th Century. Here’s a pair of octagonal frames circa 1850; solid 14k gold eyeglasses, in fact.
If nothing else this should drive home a truth I think is universally recognized but seldom spoken: the industry is horrendous at branding.
So the topography of the eyewear industry is changing. Sometimes people forget change offers opportunity. I wonder how many realize fashion eyewear as a category was born out of change and uncertainty. Let’s examine the history of modern fashion eyewear and do so from the beginning.