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Keeping an Eye on the Trendy Shades of Summer

June 20, 1986|DIANE REISCHEL | Times Staff Writer

While experts are cautioning wearers of sunglasses to beware of lenses that don't cut out ultraviolet rays, fashion still plays its role in the selection of shades for summer.

Nothing clinches eyewear fashions faster than celebrity exposure.

From the time actor Tom Cruise sported black Ray-Ban Wayfarers in "Risky Business" (1983), this '50s style frame has been synonymous with COOL for everyone from teen-agers to brat-packers and beyond.

The Ray-Ban craze lingers, but according to sunglasses sellers, Cruise's new fighter-pilot look in "Top Gun" signals growing demand this summer for round aviator styles.

Beyond the Cruise cult, color, texture and combination frames all spell an adventurous chapter for shades.

Gai Gherardi, co-owner of L.A. Eyeworks on Melrose Avenue, says the combination frame--plastic at the brow and metal underneath--is the season's strongest fashion, with the plastic in yellow, red or other bright colors. She says that faux marble and abalone, matte and shiny finishes and anything in green sells briskly.

Gherardi also finds rekindled interest in tortoise shell frames--either delicate or heavy--but nothing in between.

At Fred Segal, also on Melrose Avenue, consumers lean toward a funkier verson of the small, round, antique frame, accessory manager Jacki Arthur says. She adds that metal aviators are surfacing in everything from tiny to large frames, and that flip-up mirrored lenses are finding new followers.

Athletic looks, such as nylon framed ski glasses, continue to sway shoppers, Seth Mellman, manager of Champs in Westwood, notes. He also spots fans of Yoko Ono goggle styles.

Add to this mix a flurry of interest in colorful zebra patterns and black frames with colored accents, Colors in Optics sales represenative Donna Phillips says.

Where does this leave the simple black Ray-Ban?

"They're like 501 Levis," Gherardi says, "they just don't die."

And as for ultraviolet protection, retailers say customers, at this point, usually don't ask, but much more interest is anticipated in the future.

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