Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shutter Shades: What's That About?

Saw my first-ever pair of shutter shades on a guy on the street yesterday evening. My reaction was immediate and forceful: "Dude, no." And I don't even talk like that.

And so began the distasteful process of figuring out what these things were and why anybody would want to sport them in public. If you already know, apologies: you may now avert your eyes.

It all started, the legend goes, when back in the 1980s talented yet puckish eyeglass designer Alain Mikli thought it would be cute to jazz up the basic frame format, and issued a style whose lenses were sealed, apart from shutter-like slits. These caught on with some New Wave bands, whose most noteworthy creative achievement was setting the basic style template for Jack Sparrow. The glasses, also known as "venetian blinders" (I hope you're starting to see why this research was so excrutiating) quickly went to the trend mortuary.

Until heroic Kanye West decided to retrend them. Well done Kanye! They've since become a fashion phenomenon in the mode of trucker hats, worn ironically by hipsters, and with unalloyed glee by more credulous sorts who poignantly believe that the 80s were some kind of fashion nirvana.

If you feel you must ride this trend in a meta-vintage way, you can still find one pair of original 80s Mikli blinders on eBay. They're ridiculously well priced (and delightfully labeled by the German vendor). The thing: they're not only horizontally challenged, but vertically as well, forming a grate effect (note spelling) that will make friends going for the more moderate shutter look feel well and truly trumped.

Personally, I think the only people who should be allowed to wear slitted sunglasses are Inuits, and long-dead ones at that. Because truly, nobody should look through the world through rows-covered glasses.

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