Classic and timeless, these Cat Eye Glasses have just the right amount of vintage appeal without being overdone.

Made of a gorgeous tortoise coloration, these specs are ready for daily wear with their simplistic yet stunning design.

Carrying the classic vintage cat eye glasses shape, they’ve got just a little hint of luxe with their flourishes on the cat eye swoops and arms.

Made by Swan in the U.S.A., they’re a beautiful piece of American history to treasure – and show off!

Swan Cat eye frames

Glamorous and petite, these cat eyes pack a classic fashion punch in a diminutive size!

Radiant with sparkling rhinestones and golden hand-painted flourishes, these specs are ready to finish any vintage outfit with class.

 

Get them now!

Looking for something smaller? check out the next pair:

rhinestone cat eyes

Carrying a flowing design on either cat eye swoop, as well as both arms, these glasses look wonderful from any angle you see them at. Mixing small and medium sized rhinestones together, these glasses shine with a beauty all their own.

Adding to their luxe appeal, these frames have expertly sculptured arms that are truly inspiring.

Cast in a neutral lightest brown, these frames work great for daily wear or give you the perfect finishing touch for a night on the town.

Get them here or check out the rest of our vintage cat eye glasses!

 

Pointy and petite, these vintage cat eyes are a great look for any Fifties loving lady!

Cast in a great neutral, earthy brown, these glasses catch the light with just the right amount of sheen to make them truly lovely.

Filled with timeless retro grace, these specs are a perfect way to infuse your wardrobe with vintage allure – without being overdone.

brown cat eye glasses vintage

Featuring a smaller, pointier type of cat eye glasses, these glasses would be perfect for everyday wear or as that great finishing touch for a retro photo shoot.

Tapered yet durable arms finish the look and make these frames comfy for everyday wear.

Get them now! Or check out our next pick of vintage cat eye’s:

Unique and ready to wow these cat eyes mix classic charm with just the right hint of glam!

Cast in an almost marble looking tortoise coloration, these specs are simply fabulous!

Designed in the classic cat eye shape, their extra defined swoops give them that added touch of flirtiness that makes them too sweet.

marble cat eye's

Adding in just the right luxe touch, these frames feature a sculptured metal flourish on both the swoops and arms so they’re picture perfect from any angle.

Great for everyday wear with their sturdy yet thin arms, they’re a must have piece to finish off the perfect vintage wardrobe.

 

We’ve also fully inspected these frames and can attest that they are fully functional and lovely as ever. They have rested in a box for many a year so they may need a little adjusting at your local eye doctor before they are ready to be worn.

 

Wear them with fake lenses OR take them to the eye doctor to be fitted with your new prescription lenses!

 

Get them Here

Another 2 new vintage cat eye frames

Small but striking, these petite vintage cat eye glasses are filled with retro charms.

Based on the classic cat eye look, these glasses take the design and run with it featuring bolder and more geometric lines.

Cast in light, classic vintage pink, these glasses are truly unique.

pink cateye frames

Featuring just the right touches of glam, these frames shine with two little stars gleaming from either side of the cat eye swoops.

Designed with dainty yet sturdy arms, they’re a wonderful pair of specs for daily wear or for those special occasions!

Featuring extra swoops these cat eyes are a real show-stopper!

Not for you? Check out this one:

Cast in rusty peach, these glasses have a perfect neutral coloration that makes them divine for daily wear! Perfect for the vintage loving and rockabilly girl alike, these frames are a gorgeous finishing touch for any outfit.

Designed in the classic cat eye shape, these specs take the look a little further and make it a little more glam with their added swoops to the peaks of the cat eye.

Adding in to make these frames extra special, they’re beset with shining rhinestones and flowing hand-painted designs on the fronts and arms to make them fit for the extra glam girl.

With a sculptural bridge that really finishes the look, these vintage cat eye frames are an absolute treasure!

Looking for something older? Check out our large selection of our Antique Eyeglasses

Two new pairs of New Old Stock Vintage Cat eye Glasses

Two new pairs of New Old Stock Cat eye Glasses:

#1

Shining in retro orange peach, these cat eyes are a truly inspired design!

Carrying the classic look of vintage cat eye glasses, these specs take the design one step further with their exaggerated edges.

peach cat eye glasses

Delightful for everyday wear or as the perfect accessory for a night on the town, these frames are simply packed with vintage charm.

Featuring that extra luxe touch with atomic designs on the cat eye swoops and arms, these glasses are divine from any angle.

Fine yet sturdy arms make for a truly vintage look that’s sure to stay comfy throughout the day!

 Get them now!

Not your color? We have an additiona; 300+ styles of Vintage Cat Eye Glasses to choose from!

#2

Gold and brown combine with sparkling rhinestones to make these cateye glasses simply lovely.

Cast in a medium brown, these glasses are bold yet warm with their golden painted swoops, rhinestones and sweet little gems.

Adding the right hint of glam to either side, these frames carry a mix of small and medium jewels to give them a real vintage flair that would be divine for any retro or rockabilly girls wardrobe.

Brown cat eye glasses

Luxe but not overdone, these frames feature a smaller design using the golden swoops and gems on each arm so they look amazing no matter what angle you see them from.

Add them to your own wardrobe for daily wear or save them for those special occasions to really wow!

I Want These!

 

Looking for something really different? Try our selection of Antique Pince Nez

These curly little cat eyes are vintage charm at its’ best!

Great for the retro loving gal, these glasses are packed with vintage 50′s charm – without being overdone!

Fantastic for daily wear with their stunning yet understated tortoise coloration, these cat eyes will really set you apart with their unique perfectly curled edges.

Set with just the right amount of sheen, these glasses get that little extra touch of glam with their inlaid atomic shapes bedecking the edges of the cat eye glasses and the arms.

 tortoise curly cat

Tapering for maximum comfort on the arms, these eyeglasses are just the ticket to make your wardrobe shine!

We have inspected these frames and can attest that they are fully functional and lovely as ever. Take them to the eye doctor to be fitted with your new prescription lenses!

Get them now!

Gold and rhinestones rule these glam glasses!

Made in a warm caramel brown, these glasses are just too sweet!

Carrying the classic cat eye shape, they’re ready to add a vintage touch to your daily outfits or be the perfect look for your retro life!

Great for daily wear with their neutral yet dazzling colorations, these brown specs are beset with golden accents and gleaming rhinestones. Carrying from the points of cat eye glasses onto the arms, these eyeglasses really wow from any angle.

rhinestone glasses

A mix of small and medium rhinestones really help to add flair to the designs on this pair of vintage eyeglasses and the sculptured arms are truly to die for!

With tapered arms for added comfort they’re wonderful for daily wear – and sure to make you a show-stopper!

We’ve also fully inspected these frames and can attest that they are fully functional and lovely as ever. They have rested in a box for many a year so they may need a little adjusting at your local eye doctor before they are ready to be worn.

Wear them with fake lenses OR take them to the eye doctor to be fitted with your new prescription lenses!

Buy It Now!

Light Blue Rhinestone Curly Vintage Cat Eye’s

curly cat eyes

Light blue and dazzling in rhinestones and gems these cat eyes take vintage charm to the next level.

Look amazing with these gorgeous frames. Made in light blue, they’re a perfect 1950′s color to add in to any retro loving girls wardrobe.

Decorating the cat eye swoops and continuing onto the arms, these specs are really stunning with their mix of rhinestone and gem adornments. Carrying over 20 gems per side, these glasses are a great way to add a little luxe into your life everyday – or on those special occasion.

Great for vintage photo shoots and the rockabilly girl alike, these frames are a sure fire show-stopper!

Not to mention that you’ll look fabulous from every angle thanks to the stylized arms of these glasses that are also tapered for a comfy fit!

Get them now or check out our large selection of vintage eyeglasses!

 

Perfectly pointy these cat eyes glasses will have you looking fine!

Breaking away from the classic cat eye, these specs are truly unique with their extra pointy persuasion! Sure to set you apart and carrying an appeal all their own, these frames are really the cats meow.

Shining in light gray, these cat eyes are a perfect pair of glasses for everyday wear or to give you that vintage edge for a truly amazing night on the town.

gray pointy cat eye glasses

Adding just that right dose of glam, these cat eyes feature two little stars on the edges of each cat eye swoop that really draws the eye towards to great geometric lines of these frames.

Dainty yet durable, the chic arms have a nice tapered look that lends to their charm and of course their comfort!

Wear them with fake lenses OR take them to the eye doctor to be fitted with your new prescription lenses!

Get them here!

Check out the rest of our genuine vintage cat eye glasses. We have just added over 100 new pairs to our collection!


These rhinestone cat eyes will have you looking fab!

These rhinestone cat eyes will have you looking fab!

 Designed with an luminescent white frame, these vintage cat eye glasses are truly luxe! Sparkling with  rhinestone and metal details, these glasses are beautiful and in stunning mint condition!

 Gleaming with just the right amount of glitz, these frames are a perfect way to add a little vintage glam to any of your outfits. In neutral white and gold, they pair excellently with most any outfit to make a great pair of everyday glasses or dress up your retro look for a night on the town!

rhinestone cat eyes

 Cast in the normal vintage cat eye style, these glasses are especially unique with the added atomic design of the arms that gives them a picture perfect look from any angle!

 A fabulous piece to finish off any retro lovin or rockabilly girls outfit – and divine for pinup photoshoots!

Get them now!

 Looking for something else? Check out our selection of pince nez glasses!

Radiant and lovely in bone white, these NEW old stock cat eye glasses are geometric beauties!

Made in flirty France by Selecta Optical, these cat eye glasses really have an atomic flair!

Cast in a color we love to call bone white, these frames play with lines and geometric grace for a truly one of a kind look.

Classically inspired but with a twist all their own, these frames are sure to set you apart. Wear them daily for a true retro look or style yourself with vintage flair on those special occasions.

Not only is the style of these frames lovely, but they also up the glam factor with a few inset silver additions that make them really shine. With two petite and sweet flowers on either side of the frame and atomic silver flairs on the arms, these glasses are sure to wow!

Be the cats meow with these perfect adornments for any pinup girls wardrobe!

Get them here and check out the rest of our vintage & antique eyeglasses

Bone White  Cat Eyeglasses

 

 

 

 

Unused Mink Vintage Cat Eye Glasses

Beautiful and in mint condition, these vintage glasses were made in France by Selecta Optical (as you can see in the photos below!).

Glowing in a gorgeous shiny pinky brown finish (entitled Velvet Beige!), these cat eye glasses are really lovely. With their neutral tone, their great for daily wear and they have just the right amount of bling with two little golden set gems on either side of the frames.

Breaking from a normal cat eye style, these glasses are especially unique with the added “swoop” design of the eyes and stylized bridge that really sets them apart.

Perfect to finish off the modern day pinup or rockabilly gals look, these eyeglasses even have stylized arms that make them picture perfect from any angle.

We’ve also fully inspected these frames and can attest that they are fully functional and lovely as ever. They have rested in a box for many a year so they may need a little adjusting at your local eye doctor before they are ready to be worn.

Get them here or check out our large selection of vintage cat eye glasses!

Unused MInk Vintage Cat Eye Glasses

Unused Black Vintage Cat Eye Glasses With Silver Accents

Classic and bold, these fancy NEW old stock cat eye glasses are ready to make you look simply divine!

Just what do we mean by new old stock? It’s not a typo – it actually means that these eyeglasses were made back in the era they were popular but never sold or worn. So they’re brand new but made in times past!

 

Unused Black Vintage Cat Eye Glasses With Silver Accents

Designed by Styl Rite Optical (gotta love the name right?!?!), these extra fancy cat eye glasses are in mint condition and ready to wow!

Bold in black, these vintage eyeglasses have a classic look with a unique twist that makes them really stand out!

Filled with retro fun, these frames are perfectly styled with their expertly carved nose piece. From there these frames turn up the glam factor with their textured inserts and gleaming silver additions. Shining on both the front and arms, these glasses for definitely for the glam girl!

An envious finish for the fashionable rockabilly lady, these glasses are truly works of art.

We’ve also fully inspected these frames and can attest that they are fully functional and lovely as ever.

Wear them with fake lenses OR take them to the eye doctor to be fitted with your new prescription lenses!

Cat eye glasses were a popular form of eyewear for women that had their hay day in the 1950′s and 1960′s. Made over 60 years ago now, the small numbers that were made are getting harder and harder to find – especially in good enough shape for daily wear. Rockabilly and retro loving ladies will get a kick out of these fabulous vintage frames and a cat eye is sure to make you a real show stopper! A great vintage look for everyday outfits, the cat eye is packed with true beauty!

 

Come get them here!


Early Advertising Gimmicks for Antique Eyeglasses

It was during the Roaring 20′s in America that the first use of fashion considerations to sell more eyeglasses appears to have reached a refined and concentrated level. Prior to that time, gold-filled frames were purchased by the chic, and steel or nickel rims by those who could not afford the more costly metal.  Antique eyeglasses came to be subdivided into types which were deemed suitable only for certain occasions.

Some frames might have additional decorations, such as small inset gems, fancy scrollwork on the handles or ribbon loops, and so on. However, even the most lordly thought nothing of wearing the same pair of spectacles at any time they were needed, whether it was while reading a newspaper waiting for a train or attending a world-class operatic performance.

A deliberate advertising campaign for antique eyeglasses resulted in some specs being deemed appropriate for certain occasions, and others for other moments in life. The aim was to cause people to buy multiple pairs of Antique eye glasses, even if they could have made due with a single pair. Advertisers from the major eyeglasses companies in America realized that they could dictate fashion to the population, rather than the other way around, and persuade millions to buy not what they wanted to buy, but what the companies wanted to sell to them.pince nez glasses

This fact may hold a hint of why eyeglasses came to be seen as magnificent, stylish fashion accessories in the 1930s and the succeeding decades. The hatred and contempt in which spectacles were held for so long is the actual, natural consensus of human psychology in the absence of mass advertising.

The huge advances made in advertising in the communication age, however, opened the door for eyeglass manufacturers to shape consumers’ tastes to their own purposes. Naturally wanting to sell more glasses, they persuaded people that glasses were not a hideous eyesore on the human face, but something that enhanced one’s appearance and could correct for minor disproportions in the features.

1920s glasses for working

            People of all walks of life who needed vision aids to function comfortably were expected to have four pairs of glasses, the first of which would be a pair of working glasses. These would be either rimless or steel or nickel rimmed, and of a highly practical design. To wear such Spartan antique eyeglasses in other circumstances than when working would, of course, be a solecism, according to the carefully constructed fashion viewpoint constructed by the companies’ advertising.

vintage eyeglasses for recreation

           Recreation in a relaxed, informal atmosphere called for a completely different pair of glasses to be worn. These circumstances, such as when engaged in a sport or simply enjoying a good conversation with friends and family, were said to require glasses with tortoiseshell rims. Nickel temples were considered to be a sign of exceptionally good taste when attached to such eyerims. Since plastic was making an appearance at this time, many “recreational” vintage eyeglasses were probably plastic-rimmed with mock tortoiseshell coloring, like many frames still made today.

eyeglasses for “semi-evening wear”

            pince nez glassesCustoms in the 1920s being what they were, with a hint of stuffy butlers and minute divisions of the day into degrees of formality, an actual distinction was made between “semi evening wear” and “evening wear”. Presumably, “semi-evening” situations were more formal than regular recreation, but involved only people you were fairly familiar with, and could thus be slightly more relaxed than the full formality of a ball, opera, or dinner with guests. Tortoiseshell eyerims were again called for, but in this case, the temples and bridge were to be made of gold, not nickel.

Glasses for evening wear

            The vintage eyeglasses worn for the most formal occasions were rimless pince nez with gold metal fittings. Here, at least, the idea that the height of fashion in glasses was to make it appear, as much as possible, that you were not wearing any glasses at all, still persisted for a brief time, though the rising tide of brilliant, phantasmagorical spectacles was just around the corner.

The Slow Emergence of Fashionable Vintage Spectacles

The second and third decades of the twentieth century saw a slow but inexorable change in the status of vintage spectacles. The long period during which eyewear of all kinds was viewed with scorn and contempt, and its users dismissed as weaklings unless they were elderly enough to be excused, was finally coming to an end. Throughout the world, including America, spectacles had been held in disrepute since at least the time of the American Revolution.

Many of the interesting variants of ophthalmic devices – such as pince nez and Oxfords – had come about because of the hatred in which eyewear was held. These vintage spectacles were made to minimize the visibility of ocular aids while they were being worn.

lennon glasses      This has given the collector and historical glasses enthusiast many intriguing examples of these Spartan eyeglasses to admire and collect, but their existence was rooted in shame over a quite common physical problem that seems almost completely inexplicable to the modern mind.

During the 1920s, and especially during the 1930s, the reputation of vintage eyeglasses changed immensely. Instead of being loathed objects worn mostly out of practical necessity, and kept to a visual minimum, they became the targets of fashionable design. Though slow and hesitant at first, this metamorphosis into fashion items quickly gained traction, and spectacles soon became lavish, exuberant expressions of individuality and a flamboyant fashion accessory for both men and women.

The demise of Oxfords among vintage spectacles

            Though Oxfords and certain types of pince nez continued to be produced through the 1930s and up to the end of the Second World War, their dominion was waning in the face of the first “designer” antique spectacles.

Ophthalmologists cursed them root and branch for their perceived impracticality, but it could be argued that the decline of Oxfords occurred not because of practical considerations, but because they had become devoid of purpose – glasses designed to be as unobtrusive as possible in era that had embraced brilliant, extravagant spectacles as chic, eye-catching, and even sexy.

lennon glasses         Ironically, some of the finest Oxfords were produced in these final days of the style, when the glasses were already being relegated to “fogeys” and “has-beens”. Oxfords from this period often show exquisite workmanship and astonishingly miniaturized fittings, such as hinges, pivots, and handles. Steel and gold frames remained most common, though nickel and other metals were also used, and rimless types persisted up to the end of the Oxford era.

Experimental vintage  eyeglasses such as Boyle’s

            During this time, the advance of science and the quest for convenience led to occasional oddities of antique spectacles design that are still of historical interest. One such is a 1913 design by Boyle Optical, wherein a folding “prop” is attached to the bridge. When the vintage glasses were raised onto the forehead, this prop could be extended, resting on the bridge of the nose to keep the spectacles elevated until they are actually needed.

The arrangement proved too superfluous to garner ongoing demand, and the design quickly slipped back into the mists of history, but such experimental spectacles still exhibit the fascinating diversity of the past’s eyewear.

Old Fashioned Eyeglasses – Pince Nez and Style

Though pince nez eventually became the old fashioned eyeglasses that symbolized money and status in the latter 19th and early 20th century, there was another reason why people who could afford pince nez bought and wore them. These vintage eyeglasses were not simply conspicuous consumption. In fact, they were preferred by anyone who could buy them because of 19th century attitudes towards eyewear in general and its effect on human appearance.

During the Colonial and Revolutionary periods of American history, people preferred not to wear spectacles or vintage glasses at all if their vision allowed them to get by without. This was not a result of poverty or a lack of spectacles. Rather, there was a cultural belief that wearing  glasses showed the wearer to be weak and contemptible unless they were elderly enough to justify the “infirmity”.

Pince Nez Glasses        This attitude gradually faded as time went on (and perhaps as the bespectacled image of Benjamin Franklin became more familiar to patriotic Americans). However, a huge aversion to vintage eyeglasses remained. Now the source of the loathing was the supposedly disfiguring effect of old fashioned eyeglasses on the human face.

Viewing glasses as stylish was a long distance in the future. To our 19th century forebears, antique eyeglasses were as hideous an abomination as a massively deformed face. The larger the eyeglasses and the greater the area of the face they covered, the uglier they were considered to be.

Pince nez as an attempt to minimize eyeglasses’ visual impact

            Most of the impetus for wearing pince nez was the belief that old fashioned eyeglasses were unremittingly hideous. Pince nez acted to minimize the amount of the face covered by corrective eyewear, allowing good vision without the “unsightly” sprawl of spectacles. Eliminating the temples was considered to be one of the most important methods of making eyeglasses as invisible as possible.

Pince Nez Glasses + Case       Pince nez were designed, in short, to be “minimalist” eyeglasses which would not be as noticeable as spectacles, and, hopefully, would be completely unseen by anyone viewing the wearer from a distance. A pair of thin eyerims and plaquettes engineered to clamp onto the nose reduced the glasses to a functional minimum at the time.

It is interesting to realize that had it been possible to make contact lenses at that period in history, most pince nez users would have immediately abandoned their pince nez to wear a completely invisible vision correction system such as those available to their descendants today in America. Fortunately for the richness of America’s history of old fashioned eyeglasses, such devices could not be made at the time, although the concept had existed as a theory since the Renaissance.

The motive for wearing pince nez

            In most cases, people wore pince nez if they could afford them so that it would seem they were not wearing glasses at all. These old fashioned eyeglasses were a luxury item for the affluent, who wore them in order keep their faces as visible as possible, and thus look more attractive according to the tastes of the time. Rimless pince nez were the most coveted of all, since the lenses were almost totally unseen except when they glinted in the light, and thus “spoiled” as little as possible of the wearer’s appearance.

Ray Ban in the Era of Cat Eye Glasses

The 1950s and 1960s saw the emergence of cat eye glasses and many other flashy styles that had never before been seen on Earth. The cat eye frames shape lends itself to many different fashion statements, unlike the rather sober round or oval designs that had appeared through most of history before then. Overwhelmingly worn by women during the period, vintage cat eye glasses could appear festive, playful, or sophisticated, depending on circumstances and other fashion choices. For these reasons, vintage eyeglasses of this kind are immensely popular today, too.

Ray-Ban is a famous brand name, which belongs to the eyeglasses colossus Bausch & Lomb. The brand originated during the interwar period of the 1930s, when the focus was on producing sunglasses for fighter pilots. After World War II, Ray-Ban turned to stylish vintage eyeglasses instead, and made many sunglasses with the characteristic cat eye glasses outline.

cat eye glasses   Indeed, the first Ray-Ban sunglasses to appear after the war were named “Fun Glasses”, and though they didn’t have the full cat eye shape, they were tilted up at the outer corners. This was in 1948, so the era of cat’s eye glasses was clearly advancing fast in the postwar world. Fun Glasses were described as the “gayest thing in sun glasses” at a time when the word “gay” had no implications beyond “festive and happy”. These brightly colored frames contrasted with the somber hues that wartime glasses had naturally sported.

This is not to say that the line of more “serious” sunglasses was discontinued. Plain (though stylish) black-framed sunglasses were also manufactured by Ray-Ban, as they are to this day. General Douglas MacArthur was a fan of Ray-Bans and appears in many photographs wearing the glasses and smoking his well known corn cob pipe.

 

Cats eye glasses in profusion from Ray-Ban

One of the most famous vintage cat eye glasses designs at the time bearing the Ray-Ban stamp was the Candy Striper. Though it has faded into obscurity, this model once exemplified the whole positive, bubbly culture of the time and the sense of fun and chic that many designs simultaneously expressed. Though the construction was not as sophisticated as later glasses of this general type, the Candy Striper started the age of cat eye glasses with a bang.

The Candy Striper is an ingenious design that makes use of the same principle as artistic scratchboard to produce a vivid pattern. The main part of the glasses – the two eyerims and the bridge, which form a single seamless unit – are layered together out of alternating slices of red and white plastic. This gives the edges a series of fine red and white stripes, with red on both the outside and inside faces of the eyerims.

vintage black cat eye glasses    If this were the only decoration, the vintage glasses would be unremarkable. However, the top edge was cut away at a beveled angle to reveal alternating bands of red and white in a scalloped shape. Thus, the “brows” of these cats eye glasses are a rippling, brilliant swath of red and white curves and points. The principle is simple, but the effects are very striking.

The temples are also wide, but made out of black plastic rather than red and white. The Candy Striper was an amazingly flamboyant, eye-catching design for its day, and it still evokes all the most exciting parts of the time when cat’s eye glasses were a peacock-bright break with the past and the harbingers of a future that believed in success and progress.

Neostyle Glasses in the Cat Eye Glasses Period

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.

cat eye glasses         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.

cats eye glasses

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.

Algha, John Lennon Glasses, and Postwar Fashion

Emerging from the dark and bloodstained days of the Second World War, the antique eyeglasses fashion world exploded into huge popularity. Not only a host of new materials, but probably peoples’ defensive psychological reaction to the grimness that had just ended, caused the market to embrace bright, whimsical, or magnificently stylish designs.

Algha, Max Wiseman’s British eyeglass company, turned from making fighter and bomber pilots’ goggles back to the more pleasant business of supplying people with attractive peacetime eyewear – and eventually, John Lennon Glasses.

antique eyeglasses  It was Algha’s insistence on carrying on a technical aspect of eyeglass manufacture from the early 20th century that helped to bring certain types of John Lennon glasses into being a few decades after the last shot was fired in Europe. The company – and its successor, as shall be seen, Savile Row – made use of Rolled Gold for some of their higher end vintage eyeglasses construction.

This process makes use of hard, 14 karat gold rolled around a steel core, with a layer of 24 karat gold on top. This produces a thicker layer of gold than ordinary gold plating, making the gold layer almost certain to endure wear and tear for more than a single human lifetime of use. 24 karat gold plating would eventually wear away. However, there is another advantage – gold doesn’t cause allergies, while alloying metals sometimes do, so the Rolled Gold frames of Algha’s 1950s and 1960s vintage glasses are hypoallergenic and can be worn even by those with sensitive skin.

Some John Lennon glasses from Algha featured Rolled Gold frames. The musician wore many different pairs of glasses from Algha, and some from other sources, too. These are certainly the fanciest frames associated with the most famous and most tragically destined of the Beatles, and even today make a fashion statement suitable for men or women, in either formal or informal circumstances. The round Rolled Gold frames of the firm’s mid 20th century styles are clearly visible glinting in some pictures of John Lennon.

 

Mary Quant and Algha

The eyeglass world is as much the story of individuals as it is of corporations or technical advances, as the name “John Lennon glasses” reveals. Mary Quant was an early pioneer of British fashion sunglasses, who soon joined forces with the formidable Algha company to promote her line far and wide.

john lennon glasses     It was, in fact, a combination of Mary Quant’s reputation as a rebellious and rather Bohemian designer, plus John Lennon, that gave Algha a major foothold in the United States. Quant’s designs were mostly oval or even rectangular to start with, and a few can be classified as cat’s eye glasses, though not as obviously as some of the elongated, caracal-eyed designs that appeared at the time. However, later on, some of her designs adopted the characteristic round eyerims that Algha put on many of its works.

These Quant designs are made out of several different rich, warm, reddish brown tones of Zylonite, meant to imitate tortoiseshell. They look very distinct in this way from the thin metal rims favored by the Beatle who gave his name to a whole antique eyeglasses style.

Their workmanship is remarkable, however, with braided or plaited designs, smoothly integrated features, and technical superiority typical of Algha’s work. With their round designs drawing inspiration from the same font as the Rolled Gold types produced by the same company, these are perhaps the most unusual form of John Lennon glasses ever made – yet, in their way, John Lennon glasses nevertheless.

Vuarnet – On the Ski Slopes in the Age of Cat Eye Glasses

Even at the height of popularity for cat eye glasses and other glamor eyewear, the need for practical eyeglasses was never far away. In previous centuries, eyeglasses were used only to correct vision, but in the twentieth century, spectacles took on many additional roles. This was partly due to the plethora of new materials and manufacturing techniques that the modern age brought onto the scene. Many kinds of vintage glasses simply could not have been made before plastics, for instance.

Modern life and the explosive growth in different human activities also called out human ingenuity in making eyeglasses of diverse sorts. For instance, welders need protective eyewear that can shield their retinas from the intense glare of a welding arc. Early aviators and drivers, their faces exposed to air and debris moving at speeds humans had never encountered before, needed a way to protect these sensitive, prized organs from injury.

cat eye glasses  Technological advance and the freedom from continuous labor also brought about new sports on a large scale, such as skiing. Vuarnet was an eyeglass company that was started by Jean Vuarnet, a famous French skier, in collaboration with two eyeglass executives. This firm was founded in 1960, in the midst of the cat eye glasses era. Its decades of success shows that more “serious” vintage eyeglasses were also a vibrant market at the time, since it catered to sporting enthusiasts rather than fashion plates.

 

Using mid 20th century materials technology for rugged vintage eyewear

Vuarnet glasses were made to be used in rugged conditions – on the frigid, windswept slopes of mountains, on board sailing boats, and other demanding areas. As such, their main focus was on providing reliable eye protection from glare and windblown particles, not looking good. This does not mean that Vuarnet glasses lack a certain stark beauty, but they are far less flamboyant than many contemporary glasses.

The use of tinted lenses for different situations reaches back in eyeglass history well into the 19th century. From yellow tinted lenses used by hunters and soldiers for better visibility on cloudy days, to the dark blue lenses poets wore to simulate night and gain inspiration even at noon, the early tinted lenses were a varied and interesting lot.

Vuarnet lenses were much more scientifically grounded, but were, ultimately, based on much the same principle. Different tints of lenses were offered for ordinary snow conditions, alpine areas, sailing, and general outdoors use.

The frames were usually made out of nylon, so that they would bend and not break if dropped or thrown from the owner’s face by an impact. This ensured that skiers and boaters would still have eye protection after an accident, and also ensured that fragments of broken frame would not be driven into their faces if they had the misfortune to land on a surface face-first. Use of modern materials like nylon for frames set Vuarnet’s vintage eyeglasses apart from ordinary cat eye glasses, which would have shattered under the abuse Vuarnet sunglasses could shrug off.

vintage cat eye glasses

The strengths and weaknesses of “form before function”

Practicality was the strength of Vuarnet vintage glasses, yet also paradoxically their weakness. In an age full of brilliant cat eye glasses and other extremely stylish designs, the glasses looked drab. The fact that they were sold only at ski resorts also limited their spread, though they were immensely popular in their own niche.

The history of the Vuarnet brand shows that function alone isn’t enough to guarantee success. The brand eventually flagged, and has only revived in recent years both because of a makeover and an aggressive advertising campaign to give it a rugged yet suave masculine image.

Pierre Marly and 1950s to 1960s Cat Eye Glasses

If Oliver Goldsmith played a very important role in fostering the spectacular world of stylish 1950s and 1960s eyeglasses, the era of cat eye glasses also owes a major debt to Pierre Marly, an eccentric French artist, historical eyeglass collector, and optician operating from a single shop in Paris. His creations are eminently collectible today, since they are some of the most individual and splashy vintage glasses even from the brilliant era he helped to generate.

Marly’s glasses do not include any technical improvements – the aesthetic sphere was where the French artist excelled. The spectacles are excellent quality, as witnessed by the huge numbers of celebrities who bought from him and signed his “Golden Book”, ranging from Maria Callas and Brigitte Bardot to Madonna Ciccone. However, engineering or materials were not the areas where Pierre Marly broke new ground.

retro glasses The appearance of retro eyeglasses and their acceptance as decorative accessories were the main areas of Marly’s contributions to the world of vintage cat eye glasses and other spectacular mid 20th century designs. Today, his massive collection of 3,000 optical related objects, including historical antique spectacles dating back as far as the early Medieval era, has been organized into a museum.

Clearly, Pierre Marly wasn’t just interested in making money, though this was a necessary and very pleasant “harvest” he gained from his fame. He was also passionate about vintage eyeglasses for their own sake as cultural and artistic objects. This may have helped him create his splendid and occasionally garish eyeglasses – he was working for himself with each new design as much as for the client, and this may have boosted his creativity to new heights.

 

Many designs by Pierre Marly

Pierre Marly’s designs for cat eye glasses and other vintage eyewear run the gamut from fairly simple (though still striking) eyeglasses to sculptural creations that stretch the possibilities of the medium to their limits. With such a diverse range of retro glasses, it might seem difficult to identify a Marly, but the inside of the temples are usually marked with “Pierre Marly” and with some variation on “Made in France”.

    The French artist’s designs made use of both color and form to create the avante garde effect he was seeking. Some of his designs are just oversized eyeglass frames, with large, colorful brows and transparent plastic for the lower curve of the eyerims to emphasize the sweep and curve of the brows while producing a lighter, more crystal like effect.

Though Oliver Goldsmith’s Tennis Racket design is more famous, Pierre Marly also made a tennis racket design which he dubbed “Pierre Marly”. Rather than the handles of the rackets being crossed, they projected from the upper corners of the eyerims. The same crisscross lines were inscribed over the lenses to resemble stringing, but the lenses were much more oval and tilted than the round Goldsmith lenses, making them a type of cat eye glasses. The eyerims were joined by three large plastic beads fused together in an arching bridge.

Pierre Marly made many other dazzling designs, including heart-shaped vintage eyeglass frames made out of red Zyl and the famous “Windblown Feather” (“Plume au Vent”) model, which he often embellished with decorative flourishes such as jewels.  Marly was active for decades after the 1950s and 1960s, but there can be no doubt that he was a very important contributor to the “golden age” of decorative cat eye glasses.