Lennon's style reflected in new sunglasses

May 30, 1993|By Lisa Lytle | Lisa Lytle,Orange County Register

Imagine all the people . . . wearing John Lennon-inspired sunglasses. This spring and summer, fashion gets back to where it once belonged -- the late '60s and '70s -- with the return of the former Beatle's round-frame, tinted-lens style.

The new versions offer not only style but advances in technology: They're lighter and therefore more comfortable. Most brands provide protection from ultraviolet rays.

"It's definitely part of the '60s and '70s bell-bottoms-pop art feel to fashion right now," says Heather Adams, optician and manager at l. a. Eyeworks, a boutique for cutting-edge eyewear in Orange County, Calif.

At the Optical Shop of Aspen, an upscale eyewear boutique in Fashion Island, Newport Beach, Calif., the demand for the sunglasses is growing, manager Neil Newman says.

The frames are thin, small and round or oval and constructed of lightweight metal. They cover just the eye and usually are not big enough to cover the entire eyebrow. That's the look anyway, no matter the shape of a person's face, Ms. Adams says.

At l. a. Eyeworks, this style is available in colored aluminum, stainless steel, copper beryllium and other metal alloys, Ms. Adams says. Many of these metals are anodized, meaning they're given a protective, colored coating using electrolysis. Frame colors range from various gradations of standbys such as silver, gold and black to more eye-catching hues such as cobalt, violet and Kelly green.

At the Optical Shop, electroplated frames are available in silver, gold and rose gold, which is yellowish gold with a pink or red tint, Mr. Newman says.

Top-quality lenses are usually made of CR-39, a high-tech plastic.

Stylish as they are, tinted lenses should be chosen with care, says Dr. Walter Chase, professor at the Southern California College of Optometry. Lenses that do not meet the guidelines for color distortion set by the American National Standards Institute could alter perception of the colors of traffic lights, which could be dangerous for motorists, he says. You cannot check for distortion looking at the lenses, Dr. Chase says. Instead, seek brands that specify that they meet those standards or check with an optical expert.

The small lens size does not protect the eyes from UV rays coming from the top, bottom and sides, Dr. Chase says. Still, as long as they offer substantial UV protection, he doesn't believe that they could lead to serious long-term damage.

Prices for top-quality sunglasses range from $150 to $250, depending on the brand. Prescription lenses cost up to $500.

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