No accessory has been reborn with more impact thanks to an appearance in a movie than Ray-Ban Aviators. In 1986’s Top Gun student fighter pilots layed by Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer competed to be best in their class. Their Aviator sunglasses sparked massive worlwide sales.
Aviators have appeared in other films before and since: James Stewart wore similar style in The Spirit of St Louis (1956), Peter Fonda wore them in Easy Rider (1969)… but it was the film Top Gun that made them not only a classic, but also what is reputed to be the world’s best-selling style of sunglasses.
It was worn by the cast of Top Gun precisely because it was what fighter pilots wore, and still wear. The style was launched in 1929 after General MacCready of the US military commissioned a manufacturer to design eye protection for United States Air Force pilots that would offer a clear field of vision., and reduce glare from the sun -which was causing headaches- and the effects of ultraviolet and infrared radiation on flyers’ eyes. The comminssion was effectively responsible for the Ray-Ban company being stablished. In 1935 the military designated the style it helped to create as the Type D-1; the first time Aviators went on sale to the public was in 1936, when Ray-Ban was formed.
The original model had a plastic frame, so that no metal touched the faces of the ground crew working in subzero conditions (although it was later replaced by a gold-coloured metal one) and an antiglare lens in a distinctive green colour. It was not until 1941 that D-1 goggles were officially replaced by what were at last referred to as ‘Glasses, Flying, Sun, Rose Somoke, Type 2′.
Pictures: Ray-Ban’s Aviator sunglasses appearing in the films Top Gun (1986), Taxi Driver (1976) & Easy Rider (1969).