Audrey Hepburn wearing Cat eye frames Audrey Hepburn wearing Cat eye frames

Eyewear in Film: 6 Iconic Stars and their Legendary Frames

By Valentina Hernandez

Audrey Hepburn wearing Cat eye frames Audrey Hepburn wearing Cat eye frames

Way before social media, movie stars were the "influencers", inspiring people with their charm and setting trends in fashion and style.

As for eyewear in movies, certain sunglasses or spectacle models became as legendary as the film character wearing them.

It all boils down to the fact that the choice of glasses says so much about what a person desires to express. Therefore, they become not only an ornamental piece, but in all respects a vital part of the character.

At Portrait we love movies and we want to share our love for cinema with you! So here's six legendary movie stars whose eyewear choice became a trademark of their charm and uniqueness.

 

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961, dir. Blake Edwards)

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Possibly one of the most memorable film shots, sees Mrs. Hepburn wearing her iconic Manhattan sunglasses in shiny tortoise acetate. She wore her frames flawlessly, appearing sophisticated and dangerously charming at the same time.

Her character is to this day a huge inspiration for contemporary divas and an entire generation of eyewear lovers who aspire to become fashion icons. You can be a star with the right pair of sunglasses and Mrs. Hepburn made it look easy. Groundbreaking!

 

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, The Blues Brothers (1980, dir. John Landis)

The Blues Brothers

Name a more iconic duo! John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd with their unforgettable outfit had a huge impact on film audiences worldwide. A look that, despite many drastic changes in the world of fashion, aged greatly and is still favored by fashion lovers who mostly wear black.

When talking about The Blues Brothers, rather than the black suit or the skinny tie, everyone will mention the black wayfarers shades, proof that they became in all respects one of the most known sunglasses in film history.

 

Marcello Mastroianni, La Dolce Vita (1960, dir. Federico Fellini)

Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita

In Fellini's melanchonic portrayal of the sweet life in '60s Rome, Marcello's conflicted character roams day and night looking at the world through his iconic dark shades. These glasses are not just a stylish choice by Fellini for his beloved character, but all in all an essential part of Marcello's charm, functional for protecting him from the blinding lights of luxurious clubs and the flash of paparazzi's cameras.

Many men aspired to be like Marcello, whose character normalized wearing sunglasses to look dashing even in the late afternoon hours. Legendary is to say the least.

 

Sue Lyon, Lolita (1962, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

Sue Lyon in Lolita

The provocative adaptation by Stanley Kubrick of Nabokov's literary masterpiece is still one of cinema's most controversial episodes. Young Sue Lyon's character was so iconic, she was immortalized as the image of the film and put on the poster with her memorable heart shaped frames in plain sight.

Many years from now, thick acetate frames with creative shapes went on to influence the punk scene, became a staple in the 80s glam scene as well as ironic props for early 90s grunge musicians and became trendy today being rocked by hip hop superstars and TikTok eyewear influencers.

 

Bibi Andersson, Persona (1966, dir. Ingmar Bergman)

Bibi Andersson in Ingmar Bergman's Persona

Perhaps Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece, "Persona" was the work of a director at the peak of his creativity. Not only a deep movie, but also a beautifully shot and stylish film. Bibi Andersson's character, Nurse Alma, conceals her eyes with a pair of black acetate sunglasses which were an instant hit when the film came out in 1966.

Many women, especially in the art community, were heavily inspired by her style, from the short haircut to the dark shades, a look that conveys an impenetrable aura of mistery and vulnerability at the same time.

 

Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive (2013, dir. Jim Jarmusch)

Tilda Swinton Only Lovers Left Alive

Okay, everyone loves Tilda. Especially, Tilda in Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive who looks unbelieavably great in her portrait of an ancient vampire struggling with modern day life.

For most of the film she's wearing a pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses that make her look incredibly cool. Style aside, these shades have also a practical use, which is protecting her from the sun, notably a vampire's worst enemy! ;)


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As you can see, sometimes the perfect pair of glasses becomes as unforgettable as the character wearing them and in some cases end up stealing the show.

By all means, glasses becomes a precious ally to speak to the audience, even going as far as helping them deeply understand the character who's wearing them. 

If you need inspiration when choosing the next pair of frames to express your uniqueness, try thinking of a film you fell in love with and why you felt a connection with the style of a specific character. After all, icons and legends are there to inspire us.

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