Wayfarers were not the debut model in Bausch & Lomb’s Ray-Ban line, but they’re certainly the most famous. The shades that popularized antiglare eyewear were the company’s Aviators, originally developed in the ’30s for the Army Air Corps. They were as rationally designed as a B-17 bomber—the teardrop-shaped lenses shielded the full range of human vision. In contrast, the Wayfarers’ flared trapezoidal shape of 1952 was a design flourish akin to the Cadillac tail fin.
Though the new green glass lenses were just as high tech—blocking 85 percent of sunlight without noticeable color distortion—these were among the first sunglasses made for both seeing and being seen. And the people seen in them? Everyone from Muhammad Ali to Marilyn Monroe. Even people who weren’t wearing Wayfarers often are remembered as if they were, like Audrey Hepburn inBreakfast at Tiffany’s. (Hers? Likely Oliver Goldsmith look-alikes.) Wayfarers are still widely imitated, their geometry copied by labels like Marc Jacobs and Forever 21. Seems kind of shady.