Neostyle was a company founded in 1961, right at the height of cat eye glasses popularity. Though the French and Italians are probably the best known fashion designers, many other nations have produced outstanding vintage eyeglasses interesting to the collector and to those who enjoy wearing unusual, colorful glasses or “shades”. Germany, despite its stodgy and mechanistic stereotype, actually contributed many remarkable and sometimes outlandish designs to the history of 20th century eyewear.
“Personality Eyewear” was the the title given to Neostyle vintage glasses by the company’s founder, Walter Nufer, showing that from the start fashion and design were to be the centerpiece of the firm’s efforts. Far from being dull and pedestrian, the company was launched with the idea of making spectacles that weren’t just functional but also served as jewelry or artwork for the face.
Most Neostyle designs of the time were sleek and heavily dependent on metal, though some frames were also made of Zyl or various plastics in striking colors such as pale aqua fading into darker green at one edge and silver at the other. Few of these designs were explicitly cat eye glasses, though some of those designed for women were narrow near the bridge and wider near the attachment of the temple, very subtly hinting at a cat’s eye shape.
Neostyle and “The King”
Neostyle’s most famous coup was drawing the notice of Elvis Presley, one of the defining figures of the later era of cat eye glasses. Though Elvis tended to flit from company to company and never showed the same dedication to one firm’s products as John Lennon did to Algha’s round eyerim spectacles, he made several famous purchases of Neostyle glasses that helped them to become fashionable in the United States, too.
The Nautic 2 was the specific style of Neostyle sunglasses that Elvis favored, and that is now forever associated with him. These large quadrangular sunglasses have lenses with rounded corners and metal vintage frames, with a golden tint to the frames (and their very distinctive wide temples, which sprout from the midpoint of the eyerims’ outer edge rather than the top corner) and brown lenses similar to many “tea shades” of the era.
These are hardly cat eye glasses, yet they evoke the time period just as strongly. It is hardly surprising that Neostyle has relaunched the style today, pointing out their connection to Elvis – though collectors often prefer to hunt down one of the originals manufactured in the period when “the King” was in full song.
The revival of cat eye glasses
Neostyle’s history is interesting because during the main period when cat eye glasses were the most sought after fashion accessories, many of their vintage eye glasses had a stylish but distinctly 21st century look, as if they had somehow traveled back in time from a designer of the future.
Today, however, the company has a range of “semi cat eye glasses” that strongly resemble the designs of the 1950s and 1960s, though in more subdued colors. Cat eye glasses from the 1950s and 1960s remain some of the most spectacular vintage eyewear to be created on the planet, but there is clearly plenty of appeal still left in the design, and it may well rise again. Companies such Neostyle keep it alive just as they contributed to the amazing variety of glasses sold at the height of the cat eye glasses era.