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  • Fashion
  • Issue 44

Object Matters

The dazzling history of sunglasses. Words by Katie Calautti. Photograph by Jerry Schatzberg/Getty Images.

The first people to wear sunglasses could have hardly imagined that, centuries later, they would be a glamour accessory whose function often bore no relation to the presence of harsh sunlight.

To cut the relentless glare of light on white in the arctic region of North America, the Inuit people carved slits in pieces of wood or bone to create snow goggles. To more opulent effect, legend has it that while watching gladiatorial events, Roman Emperor Nero shaded his eyes from the sun through an emerald. In 15th-century China, lenses were made from flat pieces of smoky quartz. Emerald-tinted Goldoni glasses were worn by gondoliers on the sunny canals of


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Four

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