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It Started with The Thing
Steampunk wasn’t even Steampunk back when I first fell in love with glasses with side-shields.
The glasses themselves weren’t really steampunk either — they were glacier glasses for climbing Everest.
I spotted the style in 1982 watching Kurt Russell as R.J. MacCready in John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. He sported Vuarnet 027s with leather side-shields. Climbers and mountaineers used the 027 to keep the bright glare of the snow out of their eyes.
I searched the ‘cool’ shops in Phoenix, few and far between in 1983. I got lucky at a local sporting goods store. One pair of Vuarnet 028s were tucked in a bin. The next model after the 027s seen in The Thing. I was smitten. The design, the hinges, the leather side-shields. None of my friends had them. The only problem, they were $120 or $290 in today’s dollars. . I have seen them on Ebay and Vintage Sunglasses.com in the $350-$400 range.
Fortunately, I was a teenager living at home with a job as a sandwich maker. All my income was discretionary. Those were the days. I made up my mind, I had to have them. Ittook two paychecks and four weeks, but those Vuarnets were mine.
Sting sported something similar in a photoshoot for The Police’s Synchronicity album and the Wrapped Around Your Finger music video.
While these glasses were awesome they couldn’t be considered steampunk, these were a perfect product of the 80’s but are stylistically relegated to that decade. It wouldn’t be until the 90’s that a great pair of glasses enter the scene.
I aspire to be as good as Matsuda, it is a goal that I may never reach, but it is good to aspire to something.
Do You Remember When You First Saw Them?
I saw the Matsuda’s for the first time on July 3, 1991. Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. To this day, the Matsuda 2089 are still the coolest shades ever made. They transcend eyewear and are true works of art. I attempted to find a pair right after seeing them in the movie, but as it was the pre-internet age, researching a source was a little more difficult. As was the price when I finally found them.
Matsuda recently released a commemorative limited edition 2089H they made 150 of them and sold for over $1,000 US. At the time of writing this there was a pair available here on Amazon.com
And That Was it for a while….. a very long while
April 12, 2013 I was watching a new show on Starz called Da Vinci’s Demons. During an episode one of the main characters ‘Riario’ was sporting a pair of glasses that I had never seen before.
They were amazing! I had to have them! As a side note, these are not historically accurate, sunglasses were not available in the time of Leonardo.
These are actually four lens or D lens glasses , also called “railway spectacles”. In 1797 John Richardson patented four-lens glasses which rotated in from the sides. They became popular in the 19th Century when train travelers sought to protect their eyes from wind, smoke and sparks from the track.
As anyone today would, I jumped on the internet to see if I could find them. I couldn’t. Because they aren’t made, and the ones I had seen on television were probably from the 1860s.
This was the beginning of a quest that I didn’t know I was on…
How I Started Refurbishing Glasses (coming soon)