Thursday, October 19, 2006


Edward Guthman and the finer points I thought he made:
-There is a lot of room for personal interpretation and expression in feature stories.
-"A daily paper is like a consumer guide."
-Having the curiousity and the interest is more important than the writing.
-Read to improve your writing, read read read.
-Fascinating people make fascinating stories.
-Structure is unique with every story.
-It takes a sympathy and a lack of judement to do a true profile.
-Do what you want to do.

Opinion on a mask...sunglasses

Besides keeping a straight face while listening to a harmless, however obviously fake, white lie during an interview with a Haight shop keeper, my challenge was keeping my opinion out of the trend story. I had a hard time writing on such a superficial topic, sunglasses, without throwing in my own ideas on how the trend has reemerged as a blast from the past. Sunglasses, in my opinion--as was somewhat said by Jennifer Hartford in her interview-- act as a protective device over the human psyche--a mask to hide ourselves from the rest of the world. We live in a time of rapidly changing cultures and styles that can bring about a self-consciousness of how we, as people, fit into the change. We can never be sure if our jacket is hip, if our shoes are in, or if our hair is gelling. At least when we wear sunglasses, if our push on the limits of fashion fails, people don't have to see our faces. In short, people use sunglasses to keep some of their cards hidden, especially if those cards are wearing a plaid shirt and neon pants.
I believe in the 60's, all the way up to the late 70's, sunglasses were large in size for the same reason. At this time, youth culture was furthering the boundaries of fashion and a societal condom was needed for protection from critics. Of course people were going to bash the pioneers of bell bottoms and ridicule the explorers of mustaches-- at least with sunglasses on, people could avoid eye contact with their ridiculers. No eye contact means no low self-esteem.
On a more serious note, times are a'changing, much like back then. There is a'changing of the guard for world powers. There is a'changing of powers in our own country. There is a'changing of our perception of how safe we really are--how safe are we? We are in a time of war, debt, and hate. We live amongst racism, elitism, and sexism. The world's deck thickens with complexity each new day at the hands of globalization, cultural fornification, and further class separation. The foundations of our country--despite the army, the navy, and homeland security-- are shaken constantly. Gas prices are at an all time high, morality is at an all time low, and it seems we won't be out of Iraq till the end of time. We have more taxes, less social services, and weaker borders than ever before. I can't tell you the last time baseball, the great American pass-time, went a year without a scandal... In light of all this, it is no wonder we might want to hide behind something--even if it is a pair of large sunglasses.


On a day that could be packaged up and sold, a young woman, like a fighter pilot about to go into battle, puts on her bent sunglasses and hits Haight street ready for a fashion war. What is she fighting for? Of course, a replacement for her broken glasses– fortunate for her, the latest in sunglass fashion is big, beautiful, and hard to miss.
Long since Jacqueline Onassis, the great Kennedy bride, shielded herself from paparazzi camera flashes with dark, oversized sunglasses and Audrey Hepburn wore a pair of eclipsing shades, giving us a black and white pose in Paris worthy of legend, there has been a re-emergence of large sunglasses– ones that haven’t been seen on a mass scale since the 70's.
These aren’t the fuzzy brimmed spectacles adorned by 80's club kids or the full wrap-arounds, half in red and half in yellow, prized by AC Slater in the early 90's, but a return of the high fashion accessories once celebrated by national icons. These new glasses are bedazzling the world with a hybrid of styles, mixing the classical with the modern, allowing just the right amount of a person’s face to be covered– as to show their identity but still keep the mystery alive.
Wearing a pair of Oliver Peoples glasses, reminiscent of large flat opal stones, Jennifer Hartford, 20, said she wears her big glasses so she can lose the makeup while still feeling trendy. Hartford also said she feels protected when she’s wearing her shades.
Michelle Cole-Arnold, owner of the very swank clothing store Lost Horizon, said over-sized sunglasses came into style about two to three years ago and are worn by both sexes and any age between 15 and 40. Cole-Arnold, contrasting a 17 year old’s dress code with a head of silverish-blonde hair escaping out from under her grey Cuban revolutionary style cap, said the big framed glasses, along with military style aviators– as worn by Tom Cruise in Top Gun– are currently in, but the style is always changing. "If you were to open a sun glass store, you wouldn’t spend all your money buying these two [glasses] because everything would change in two weeks."
Lost Horizon is located on Haight Street in San Francisco, a district long thought of as a sort of fashionista’s paradise that offers a reliable indicator to current fashion trends. On the street, my eyes, unbiased by any glasses, can see that the most basic of indicators– that is, what people are wearing– points to large glasses as the go to style for the masses.
Above street level, resting on the front counter of the infamously popular Villain’s Vault clothing store, also located on Haight, hip brands such as Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, and Dior, along with fashion titans like Gucci, Armani, and Prada all lay their stake in the booming oversized shades market, proving that large glasses are definitely the bees knees. Inside the lofty Villain’s Vault, my personal sunglass guide, personal shopper Laura Santoyo, described the modern trends in sunglasses, ironically, as vintage and large, with some 70's funk styled into each pair.
Santoyo, 23, said hot styles of the oversized glasses include glasses with anything from rims that cross in the front and open up on the sides, creating a flow of peripheral freedom, to others that resemble race horse blinders. Colors include everything from basic black to standout white to a Rastafarian blend of red, yellow, and green. In any case, Santoyo said, a gradient fade on the lense is a must have, which makes the lense color look increasingly erased from top to bottom. Whether or not you prefer the added decoration of rhinestones or glitter is your call, but keep the frame plastic instead of metal said Santoyo. Also, mirrored lenses are out– that would be tacky; that would be Chips.
Giving a commoner’s opinion on the matter, USF student Dave Binegar, 20, said comfortably, while wearing some checkered slacks and a pair of neon colored Ray Bans, that he believes the over-sized sunglasses are coming from a new Golden Girls rave that is bringing back grandma chic– that is if grandma chic was ever in. Binegar said he wants to see even larger glasses emerge from the new trend. Although it is uncertain whether glasses will make the switch from mid-size SUV to Excursion, one thing is, right now bigger is better.
Turning the pages in magazines like GQ, Vogue, and Hommes, I notice that the cooler the brand, the larger the sunglasses on the model. Moreover, the older the clothes on the models look, the larger the sunglasses. So, what’s the deal?
Sitting behind the front counter of Stuf, a youthfully florid accessories shop on Haight, a young woman with afro-ed hair shooting out every which way from her scalp, Jamey Gorman, tells me these snow goggle sized glasses reemerged with the current retro/vintage trend. "The 70's are back," said the twenty something Gorman, who was now leaning back with her bare feet propped up on the counter and tucked half way into her bellbottoms, "I guess things were meant to be showed off back then."