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FOR AS LONG AS WE CAN REMEMBER, MOVIES HAVE SET THE TREND FOR...CHIC SHADES : FRAME FACTOIDS.

Byline: Barbara De Witt Daily News Fashion Editor

Scarlett O'Hara had 'tude for her time, but today we'd put her in some green cat's-eyes instead of those draperies.

Or, she might look good in big wrap-arounds that would also protect her eyes as she fled the flames of Atlanta under siege.

But in the '30s, when ``Gone With the Wind'' was made, sunglasses weren't readily available.

True sunglasses, with brown lenses to see the clouds better, were only made for military pilots in the early days. It wasn't until the end of the '40s that stars such as Humphrey Bogart, Norma Desmond, Cary Grant and Bette Davis began wearing sunglasses as an accessory, making them part of the mainstream.

The trend started inside the studios, where stars discovered the dark lenses shielded their eyes from the camera's bright lights and also allowed them to mingle in public without being easily recognized, said Carol Norbeck, spokeswoman for the Vision Council of America.

By the '50s, certain styles became linked to particular stars. Elvis wore aviators, Bette Davis favored small, round, wire frames, Ray Charles wore heavy rectangular Clubmasters (later popularized by the Blues Brothers), and Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly had oversize ovals with big plastic frames that are making a major comeback now.

And, actually, a lot of old Hollywood frames are making movies again.

Remember the wrap-around style worn in ``The Terminator''? That futuristic style has been slimmed down and given a '90s update for ``Men in Black.''

In the film about a pair of G-men chasing aliens on Earth, the ultra-dark and daring Predator 2 glasses by Ray-Ban protect them from the powerful beam of a mind-erasing neuralyzer, as well as providing a hip but menacing quality.

``We develop our trust by looking into people's eyes,'' Norbeck said, ``and when you can't ... well, think of the last time a patrolman pulled you over and gave you a ticket. See what I mean?''

Sherry Lay, spokeswoman for Sunglass Hut stores, agreed that celebrities give clout to certain glasses.

``Lots of male stars started wearing Ray-Ban Clubmasters, but it was the golfer Jack Nicholson who really made them famous. He did what Tom Cruise did for Wayfarers in `Risky Business,' '' Lay said.

And what about those heart-shaped shades worn by Sue Lyon in ``Lolita''? Or the super-futuristic glasses worn in the recent ``Star Trek'' film?

Aviator frames are another good example. Now celebrating their 60th anniversary, they were heroes in World War II, linked to the likes of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. And never mind that women's rights activist Gloria Steinem often wore them in the '60s - they achieved REAL star status when Tom Cruise wore them in ``Top Gun.''

Shades also can create vamp appeal, as evidenced in ``Batman & Robin.''

``Not only will the shape of the glasses worn by Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy appeal to young women, but also the color, which is the hottest new color of the sunglass season,'' Norbeck added.

According to Jean Scott, spokeswoman for Luxottica, which makes shades for Anne Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, Armani, Persol and Valentino, the classic red frame has been replaced by green, blue or yellow.

``Even Persol, the classic movie-star frame, has added a little color to its usually black-and tortoise-dominated collection,'' said Scott. Colored lenses in wire frames, first worn by Meg Ryan in ``French Kiss'' and recently seen on Sandra Bullock in ``Speed 2,'' are also stylin'.

Blue is best - yellow's becoming a bit passe - but Norbeck warns that the pastel lens shades are meant for indoors and nightlife and offer no protection from literally blinding ultraviolet rays.

Skinny wraps, '50s cat's-eye shapes, bright colors, matte metals, oversize ovals, wire rectangles instead of round - they're all major looks under this summer's sun. And then there's the new sportswear category, with different glasses for different sports.

The most high-profile pair is a futuristic wrap from Oakley that tightly fits the face and has a hingeless frame for athletes who don't like anything pinching their ears. Fashion tip: Since these glasses won't fold into a case and are too big to hang from the cord, which is in again, many fans are wearing them on their baseball caps or propping them on their foreheads.

Can't decide which style is yours? Follow your favorite star. From ``Risky Business'' to ``Jerry Maquire,'' Tom Cruise wears Ray-Bans. So does actor Jack Nicholson. But Cruise and his wife, Nicole Kidman, have also been known to sport plastic-and-metal combos by Yohji Yamamoto.

Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts have been spotted in clear plastic Lumar styles by Oliver Peoples, and Axl Rose and Bianca Jagger have shielded their eyes from the sun in neo-noir modified goggles by Morgenthal-Frederics.

According to Blake Kuwahara, KATA eyewear designer, Courtney Love and Juliette Binoche favor Hanae Mori Paris Lunettes, Nicolas Cage went to the Academy Awards in black frames with purple lenses by Isaac Mizrahi, and Ralph Fiennes walked the red carpet on Oscar night with a pair of KATA's Eyeota frames.

If you think chic shades are only for the young, don't be so bashful. The Vision Council reports that as our favorite stars age and begin wearing prescription glasses in films and television, eyewear will become more and more prevalent.

Sunglasses were born in 1885, but they became big when movie stars started wearing them in the late '30s.

Some 290 million pairs of sunglasses were sold last year.

Sunglasses are priced as high as $200, but most folks still pay $10.

The average shades wearer is 44.8 years old.

Green frames are the coolest color for '97.

The Blues Brothers wore Clubmasters by Ray-Ban. Ray-Bans were also the choice of Tom Cruise, who became forever known for his Wayfarers in the underwear dance scene in ``Risky Business.''

Shades should never be left on the car dashboard - even in the case - as direct sun will soften and distort plastic frames and lenses.

You'll fry your eyes without UV protection. This can lead to serious eye damage, including macular degeneration, a progressive condition that can result in permanent vision loss.

Fashionably speaking, pastel lenses are for nightlife only.

Pilots wear brown lenses to improve their depth of field.

Answers to quiz

1. Jack Nicholson in ``The Two Jakes.''

2. Madonna in ``Evita.''

3. Tom Cruise in ``Risky Business.''

4. Sarah Jessica Parker in ``Mars Attacks''

5. Audrey Hepburn in ``Breakfast at Tiffany's.''

6. Kevin Costner in ``A Perfect World.''

7. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in ``Twins.''

8. Susan Sarandon in ``Thelma & Louise.''

9. Howard Stern in ``Private Parts.''

10. Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino in ``Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.''

11. Tracey Ullman in ``Pret-a-Porter.''

12. Al Pacino in ``The Godfather Part III.''

13. Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine in ``Postcards From the Edge.''

14. Sandra Bullock in ``Two If by Sea''

CAPTION(S):

17 Photos, 2 Boxes, Drawing

Photo: (1--Cover--Color) MADE in the SHADES; Your sunglasses tell the world who you are.

The sunglasses gracing the L.A. Life cover are by Oakley, courtesy of the Sunglass Hut.

(2--Color) Uma Thurman launches the green-eyed trend in ``Batman & Robin.''

(3) Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith protect their eyes from aliens and neuralyzers with Ray-Ban's new Predator 2 sunglasses.

(4-17) Films and frames quiz

Image is everything in L.A., where movie stars stroll the streets behind their signature shades, hiding from the rest of us mortals.

To test your star-spotting skills, take a gander at the famous faces below and see if you can come up with the corresponding names and film titles. You can check your answers on Page 15.

Drawing: (Color) No caption (``Gone with the Wind'' stars, Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in sunglasses)

Illustration by Jorge Irribarren

Box: (1) Frame factoids (See text)

(2) Answers to quiz (See text)
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 10, 1997
Words:1300
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