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Such an Eyeful

April 05, 1998|TARA WEINGARTEN

In this town, wearing the wrong sunglasses is next on the sin list to not owning enough black in your wardrobe. But the variety!

This season, one company stands out in both style and price. Kata Eyewear, a Los Angeles-based company that's built a reputation as a fashionable prescription eyeglass maker, has emerged this spring with its inaugural line of sunglasses. In the tasteful Barneys New York display case, Kata Sunwear (with prices starting at $360) is featured prominently.

"There's nothing else like them; they're very sculptural," says Barneys accessories buyer Julie Levy. "They are very upscale, very sophisticated. And even though they're at the upper reaches of price, we have no problem selling them."

Sleek and streamlined, these sunglasses look almost aerodynamic.

"I think they have a sporty elegance," says Blake Kuwahara, Kata's designer. "They are minimalistic and refined."

Some Kata styles are reminiscent of those worn by Audrey Hepburn. Others look as if from the space age. Color, both in the frames and the lenses, is a large part of Kata's design element. This season's palette includes ice blue, eggplant and ochre lenses in addition to the perennial grays and greens.

Kuwahara acknowledges that the basic design of sunglasses doesn't change, whether it's a $5 Venice cheapie or one of his own.

"You can buy a million variations of the little black dress, and you can pay $50 or $5,000 for it; what makes it unique is the material and the styling."

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