Perfectly round eyeglass lenses have come back into vogue this summer, a trend influenced in part by the continuing public affection for the hero of the Harry Potter books, combined with a resurgence of 1960s-influenced fashions. ‘You’ll See It Everywhere,” proclaims the June 1, 2009 issue of New York Magazine, identifying round sunglasses as a trend defining the 2009 summer season.
While circles themselves have been a symbol of eternity (think wedding bands) and even a denotation of the divine (like a halo on the medieval painting of an angel or saint), perfect circles can be perfectly difficult to wear as the shape of lenses in a pair of eyeglasses. Eric Wilson, writing for the New York Times, quotes Kristen McCabe, a buying executive for the upscale eyewear retailer Ilori, in an excellent article on the history and influences on this season’s trendy eyeglasses shape:
“When Proenza Schouler introduced round sunglasses in spring 2008, the designers were actually so far ahead of the trend that they were at a disadvantage. Circular frames are not face-friendly, Ms. McCabe said, and usually look best on women with strong jaw lines, so the line’s initial styles were difficult to sell. But newer versions, which are slightly larger and more angular, with the stems positioned higher on the frame, have been a success.”
The rounder the lenses, that is to say, the more perfect the circles, the more difficult to wear the eyeglasses will be. Emphasizing the roundness of lenses with darker or thicker frames exacerbates this phenomenon. If the bridge of the eyeglasses (the piece that sits above the wearer’s nose) is designed to be a straight line, the geometry of the eyewear is emphasized. Circles are also emphasized when the earpieces or stems of the glasses are attached near the midpoint of the circles.
[Illustrations: Above: Chakra Eyewear RM3 glasses; below: Lafont Alibaba glasses, both from eyeglasses.com.]
Perfectly round eyeglasses are difficult to wear because they present a design that dominates not only the wearer’s face, but often the wearer’s entire visual impression, winning every “blink test.” Circular lenses emphasize everything round about a person’s appearance, which is why an angular face with a strong jaw line is best able to sustain the look of round lenses.
Contrast the challenge of wearing round lenses with the ease with which almost any woman can wear hoop earrings. Set on an angle at the earlobes, the sense of roundness of hoop earrings appears only when the earrings are viewed from the side, and then only one at a time.
[Illustration: The July 2009 issue of In Style magazine features both round sunglasses and hoop earrings.]
Reposition those hoops as dangles from doorknocker earrings so that the circles face forward, however, and they become much more of a challenge to wear because those perfect circles once again catch the eye and demand attention.