AO Presents – Glasses in the Movies
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AO Presents – Glasses in the Movies

What a movie character wears speaks to us before the character ever says a word. Their clothing, hair, makeup – all carefully designed to let us know who that person is. Eyewear is one of the most dramatic and telling devices in a costume designer’s tool belt.

Normally when someone wears glasses it means they need help seeing more clearly. When they put on sunglasses, it likely means it’s sunny out. In the movies though, eyewear seems to carry a much heavier weight. Could it signify a character is evil? Uninteresting? Insane? All of the above?

Throughout the years, some of film’s most interesting characters have worn glasses or sunglasses as a way of hinting into their psyches. Let’s take a closer look at some of AO Eyewear’s roles in the movies.

Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle

Watching Travis Bickle’s descent into madness is quite a ride. Dark glasses are often used to dehumanize a character and, throughout the film, as we see Bickle’s appearance become more intense, the sunglasses become a more integral part of his look.

The sunglasses worn, the FG-58 (now the Original Pilot) are an authentic pairing with Bickle’s Vietnam War military jacket, as AO Eyewear supplied the US military at the time. What’s truly amazing is how Bickle takes this distinctly military look and transcends it; how he makes it feel completely his own. Was this the beginning of the aviator shape’s association with rebels and bad boys?

Robert de Niro as Travis Bickle

Vertigo, Midge Wood

Wearing glasses used to carry more assumptions than it does these days. Back in 1958, they painted a clear picture of Midge – a “plain Jane” who would never again be seen as a love interest to the leading man. Her glasses visually portray her as the antithesis of the beguiling Madeline (Kim Novak). In fact, Hitchcock requested that the glasses be “flesh-colored,” further blending Midge into the background, but the actress, Barbara Bel Geddes, insisted on adding some color.

Barbara Bel Geddes wears AO glasses in Vertigo

Tropic Thunder, Kirk Lazarus

Tropic Thunder stirred up controversy on several levels but that didn’t stop Robert Downey Jr. from receiving several award nominations for his portrayal of method actor, Kirk Lazarus. 

Rather than outfitting Robert Downey Jr. in sunglasses with dark lenses, costume designer, Marlene Stewart, made the brilliant decision to use a vintage AO frame with yellow lenses.These sunglasses completed the military look the method actor character would need and still allowed us to see his full range of emotions (and lunacy).

Helmet, Dog Tags, and Sunglasses of Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) from Tropic Thunder

Shop AO now to create your own silver screen worthy look.

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