Eyewear Evolution

Yesterday, we talked about how the very first sunglass sighting was a piece of bone with a slit carved lengthwise through it, cobbled up by an Arctic Eskimo tired of glaring sun rays bouncing up from the snow on a bright day. That was more than two thousand years ago, and we didn’t go from a shapeless clunker on our faces (Lady Gaga might disagree!) to sleek chic from great shade collections such as Mykita, Dita, and Thom Browne.

Pince Nez from Rosenborg castle in Copenhagen, worn by royals in the Middle Ages. © Desiree Koh

Pince Nez from Rosenborg castle in Copenhagen, worn by royals in the Middle Ages. © Desiree Koh

Along the way, eyeglasses took on the form of bone-framed rivet spectacles to be dextrously balanced on one’s nose bridge, outer rims with leather straps strung through to be attached to the ears, and lorgnettes, foldable eyewear that could be tucked into their handles. Some were even part of accessories such as fans and gentlemen’s fob chains! It wasn’t until the 20th century that the functionality of eyewear was fully explored, as well as the ergonomics for wearing it throughout the day and night. That is, in a very quick nutshell, is how frames and sunglasses that we know so well today evolved from that Eskimo’s ingenuity – here is a great blueprint for the basic structure of a pair of eyeglasses. Sure, you recognize the structure, but how many parts could you actually name? 8)

We've come a long way in eyewear design, baby - what a ride it's been. © Desiree Koh

We’ve come a long way in eyewear design, baby – what a ride it’s been. © Desiree Koh

From this physiognomy, eyewear is manufactured from machines in countries as far-ranging as China, Taiwan, and South Korea to handcrafted by artisans in France, Japan, and Germany. No matter what shape they take on, this structure is exactly why the astounding varieties of designs and styles are in existence. Which ones work best for your face shape?

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