Image: Anna Ter Haar
Image: Anna Ter Haar
Sunglasses are both fashionable and functional. While they block our eyes from harmful UV rays, they can simultaneously serve as a stylish accessory that may rival even the most dazzling jewelry. Many designers have jumped into the sunglasses sector, creating not only ordinary, everyday looks, but also frames that are so unusual that we almost can’t believe our own eyes. Take a look through our pick of the 15 wackiest, weirdest shades out there.
Image: Jean-Charles de Castelbajac
15. PLUG Sunglasses – Jean-Charles de Castelbajac
What do you get when you combine a childhood toy and a pair of shades? French fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s whimsical creation, PLUG sunglasses. Take a trip back to your childhood by donning a pair of these colorful frames – available in white, yellow and red – which could be bought in stores in 2009. Castelbajac’s design allows the wearer to build on the sides of the sunglasses with Legos, so you can be wearing a unique style each and every time you put them on – and have lots of fun in the process. The PLUGs were originally sold at the JCDC store in London and Paris for about $150.
Image: Giulio Iacchetti
14. 4occhi – Giulio Iacchetti
Giulio Iacchetti has been near-sighted for most of his life. With this in mind, the designer envisioned a pair of dual-functionality glasses to meet his needs – and those of others. Iacchetti’s 4occhi (meaning “four eyes”) glasses allow users to combine both their spectacles and shades in one simple, clean-cut pair, which can also accommodate lenses for both the near- and far-sighted. The glasses simply need be flipped upside down, depending on what lens usage is required. In addition, the first 4occhi series were handmade from plant-based material cellulose acetate, adding a hint of environmental friendliness to these fierce frames.
13. Denim Zipper – Alain Mikli
This unique pair of sunglasses combines the vision of luxury eyewear designer Alain Mikli with the denim inspiration of Lee Cooper. When Mikli was tasked with producing a special piece for the brand’s 100th anniversary design project, he took a pair of five-pocket Lee Cooper jeans to pieces, and for good reason. The rims of these sunglasses not only look like denim; they’re actually infused with the classic blue textile. Mikli – who also designed Kanye West’s memorable shutter shades – handcrafted the one-of-a-kind sunglasses, incorporating a zipper and teeth carved into their right lens.
Image: Anna Ter Haar
12. Dripping Tar Sunglasses – Anna Ter Haar
Dutch designer Anna Ter Haar made a splash on the runway with these Dripping Tar sunglasses, created for the Klavers van Engelen fall/winter fashion show in 2008. Haar played around with polyurethane resin whilst working on her graduation project and came up with the method behind the dynamic look splashed across these shades. The Dripping Tar sunglasses are featured on both Ter Haar’s blog and Klavers van Engelen’s website. Sadly for bold fashionistas, the design is at present not being mass produced and is not for sale on either site.
11. Concentric Geodesic Sundials – Mercura NYC
Lady Gaga proved once again that she has an eye for quirky fashion when she wore these Concentric Geodesic Sundials sunglasses, which were produced by New York-based company Mercura. Sisters Rachel Cohen-Lunning and Merrilee Lichtenstein Cohen established the company in 1989, but they started off making jewelry and eyewear from the city’s fabled Hotel Chelsea in the ‘70s. The pop princess was spotted sporting these shades in New York in 2011 and again in the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair. The unusual design features two ovals set within circles all covered in gold, acting as a perfect complement to Gaga’s platinum blonde locks.
Image: Mykita Eyewear
10. Yuri – Mykita/Romain Kremer
At first glance, these gargantuan-looking creations seem more like space helmets than sunglasses; perhaps that’s why they’re named for legendary Russian cosmonaut and first man in space, Yuri Gagarin. They’re the brainchild of Berlin-based company Mykita Eyewear and French designer Romain Kremer – and perhaps unsurprisingly, Lady Gaga has also been spotted in the striking avant-garde shades. The glasses’ most unusual feature is their lack of lenses; in their place, like the customary eyewear of Inuit people, they incorporate peepholes that let in only a small amount of light. The Yuri model was produced in a limited edition run for Kremer’s 2010-to-2011 fall and winter range and retailed for $899.
Image: Jeremy Scott/Linda Farrow
9. Mickey – Linda Farrow/Jeremy Scott
Discover your inner child with these fun Mickey shades, which were conceived by designer Jeremy Scott for Linda Farrow Sunglasses. The black, thick-rimmed glasses present a “flip up” design to help wearers imitate everyone’s favorite cartoon mouse. They were featured in the 2013 spring and summer issue of Gloss Magazine and in the French edition of weekly fashion publication Grazia. However, the glasses’ most noteworthy media appearance was in Lady Gaga’s music video for her song “Telephone,” featuring Beyoncé. You can get yourself a pair for $460 from Linda Farrow’s official website.
8. 1000 Swarovski Strass Mask – Alain Mikli/Swarovski
Believe it or not, French eyewear designer Alain Mikli has produced some more standard-looking sunglasses, but sometimes he takes his creations to outlandish extremes – as you can clearly see from looking at this pair of sparkly shades. Mikli’s designs have sat on the heads of celebrities like Andy Warhol, Samuel L. Jackson, Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, and Egyptian singer and actress Dalida, who famously wore Mikli’s 1000 Swarovski Strass Mask sunglasses. The sparkling glasses were also showcased in a 2009 edition of French fashion magazine Madame Figaro, worn by French model-turned-actress Laetitia Casta. Created in 1985, the “mask” was made using Swarovski crystals and wraps around the face and head.
Image: Linda Farrow
7. KTZ 1 “Football Helmet” Shades – Linda Farrow
Linda Farrow’s KTZ 1 “football Helmet” sunglasses are perfect for those moments during the game when the glare on the screen is just too bright to see the play: put on a pair of these and you can catch the action in style. The one-piece, gradient-shaded lens is set underneath a stainless steel framework, and the shades are available for $350 from Linda Farrow’s official website. As well as appearing in the U.S. version of Harper’s Bazaar, they have also been spotted on the faces of sunglasses-crazy pop icon Lady Gaga and Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen. The shades are available in black, white, silver and gold.
6. Mercura NYC Sunglasses – Mercura NYC
Mercura NYC founders Rachel Cohen-Lunning and Merrilee Lichtenstein Cohen describe their company as “the Picasso of sunglasses.” Apparently, like the work of the great artist himself, the company’s creations are so diverse that they don’t fit into any one particular style. Cohen-Lunning and Lichtenstein Cohen admit that they work on their “mixed-media” designs late into the night “as if it were an art installation project” and that their imaginative sunglasses are mostly bought by art dealers. It’s perhaps fitting, then, that Mercura’s glasses – like mini artworks – have been sold at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art not to mention at The Guggenheim.
Image: Jeremy Scott by Linda Farrow
5. TVSpecs – Jeremy Scott/Linda Farrow
Jeremy Scott and Linda Farrow teamed up again to produce these attention-grabbing TVSpecs shades. The sunglasses’ square rims surround PC lenses that provide complete UV protection. Meanwhile, over the right lens is a tiny television antenna, and small metal knobs and buttons on the bottoms of the rims complete the look. The glasses, which have been featured in the May 2013 Dutch version of Glamour, are available on the official Linda Farrow website for a cool $275 – and if you buy them, you’re practically guaranteed a good reception.
4. Sioux Lace – A-Morir
A-Morir is the brainchild of designer Kerin Rose Gold, who creates luxury eyewear beloved of the pop elite – from Beyoncé and Lada Gaga to Debbie Harry and Grace Jones. During the 2009 New York Fashion Week, Barbados-born singer Rihanna had the honor of being the fist person to step out in these elaborate yet delicate looking shades. The transparent frames are adorned in delicate black lace, allowing the wearer to shield their eyes from the sun and add a touch of femininity to their outfit at the same time. Each pair of Sioux Lace sunglasses is handmade and can be purchased from A-Morir’s website for $210.
Image: Be Wild
3. Black Bars – Be Wild
Most of us are familiar with the censor bars used in TV and print to block private body parts from view, or to keep people’s identities confidential by concealing their eyes. Novelty product company Be Wild was clearly inspired by the latter when they created their Black Bars sunglasses. When photographed, the wearer of these blocky shades will look like their eyes have been covered in censor bars – meaning that in those paparazzi shots, no one will know exactly who you are. Ten bucks is a small price to pay for your privacy – or to pretend that you’re a celebrity wanting to be left alone for a day.
2. Black Swan – Alain Mikli
The illustrious Alain Mikli is responsible for this outlandish 2012 pair of sunglasses, dubbed the Black Swan. Perhaps Mikli took his cue from award-winning 2010 thriller movie Black Swan – and we’re sure that Oscar-winning lead actress Natalie Portman could have pulled off this headpiece flawlessly. The feather-finished product, complete with a swan’s head and neck protruding from studded rims, shows off Mikli’s ability to translate a complex concept into a mixture of art and fashion. Perhaps even more impressively, Mikli and his team’s creations are each handmade end to end without the use of computers.
1. Barracuda – A-Morir
The A-Morir Barracuda sunglasses are perhaps among the most recognized bizarre shades on the market, thanks in no small part to celebrities like Nicki Minaj, Adam Lambert and Rihanna. Rihanna famously wore a pair of A-Morir Barracudas in her music video for “Run This Town.” The frames are coated in handcrafted black plastic studs that completely cover the eyes, and according to the official website, “they’re not see through but you can see through them.” The lovingly created shades are also available in silver and gold and can be yours for just $350.