Hot shades for a cool look

Summer and sunglasses are made for each other. It is a fashion statement as well. Today it is no longer just the privilege of celebrities to flaunt the latest in shades. Ritusmita Biswas spots the trends this season

It is hot out there with the sun glaring down ferociously on all and sundry. Time to flaunt the latest in shades. Well, people donít call them goggles any more. While protecting the eyes from sunrays is a legitimate reason, many youngsters, and even the 
not-so-young, admit that sometimes it is the fashion element that pushes them to invest in a pricey pair of sunglasses, while a cheaper variety would have done the job as well.

However, sunglasses were not always used to save the eyes from the sun. In fact, the origin of sunglasses dates back to ancient China. It is believed that the Chinese judges used smoky quartz glasses so as not to reveal their emotions by hiding their facial expressions while interrogating witnesses. These glasses became a popular accessory when Sam Foster introduced them in the US in 1949. Since then, they have been much in demand and come in varied styles.

Be that as it may, a pair of fashionable sunglasses as an accessory simply makes a suave style statement. Can you imagine Jack Nicholson without his dark glasses or Hollywood or Bollywood divas stepping out in their itsy-bitsy white summer dresses without those large frames? Says fashion designer Agnimitra Paul of Kolkata: "It is a must-have accessory in your summer wardrobe. Identify which style suits you best and go for the one which is not only in fashion but allows you to make your own unique style statement too."

Agrees upcoming model Sayantika: "It is the coolest style statement you can make this summer. I canít imagine myself minus my pair of sunglasses, be it summer or winter. Well, I feel it adds to my charm by adding a mystery to my persona."

Why only celebrities and models? Even the girl next door today is reluctant to step out of her house sans the shades. Says Manisha Kapoor (42), a homemaker of Delhi: "When we were young we took care of our skin. However, we were not so particular about sunglasses or sunscreen; rather most of the times we braved the sun. But my daughter today refuses to leave home minus her sunglasses or without the sunscreen cream."

Says dermatologist Nipa Sen of Kolkata: "True, todayís generation is much more health conscious and not essentially just fashion conscious. Sunglasses are now a necessity and not just a style statement."

Across the globe, people are increasingly getting aware about the effect of global warming and the harmful effect of the sun due to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) ray. Manisha Kapoorís daughter Neeta (22), who works in a media house, says: "You must be out of your senses to leave house in Delhi in the summer minus the shades. Itís not only style but a must-have if one is not keen to fall sick or develop skin cancer in the future."

She feels sunglasses also improve visual comfort and clarity by protecting your eyes from the sunís glare.

Bangalore based ophthalmologist Sukanya Basu points out that over-exposure to UV ray may lead to the development of cataract.

The health benefits apart, sunglasses also spell summer style.

So, what is the latest this season? Branded eye wear, of course. Like watches, classy branded sunglasses are regarded as status symbols. Be it a Blueberry, Gucci, Dior, Prada, Armani, Chanel, Ray Banóan array of foreign brands have flooded the market, making it a must have for todayís generation.

From an ordinary desi pair available at around Rs 300 to an imported one at Rs 26,000 plus, you can take your pick. The old favourite Ray Ban may be available at around Rs 6,000, whereas a Diesel pair can cost Rs 13, 000 or more.

The colours that are hot this summer are icy blues, browns and rust shades. The frames need to be large. However, though thatís the general fashion trend, make sure that it suits you. Points out designer Bhavna Tikmani: "When buying sunglasses make sure that the lenses are dark enough to keep your eyes comfortable but have a suitable vision. If you are buying plastic lenses, find one that has a scratch-resistant coating." ó TWF