History Comes Alive Via Eyewear! Part 2: BeBops -- Glossy Black "Jazz" Frames

To highlight the rich history of our most popular eyewear, we're publishing a series about the origins of some of the classic eye frames in our portfolio:

BeBops: Glossy Black Eyewear Made Cool by the Giants of Jazz!

BeBops Glossy Black Eyeglasses
Focusers BeBops – glossy black zyl frames.

Dizzy Gillespie. Chet Baker. Thelonious Monk. Miles Davis. These are just some of the jazz greats who, while thrilling audiences with their innovative musical virtuosity, wore thick-rimmed shiny black eye frames, often as sunglasses. These rounded rectangular rimmed frames were a variation on the P3 shape first developed during the 1930s and made popular during and after World War 2 by returning GIs. Though newly developed plastics allowed for almost any shape and color, the stark bold shape and style of these frames attracted musicians in the late forties and early fifties.

Dizzy Gillespie Wearing Glasses Playing Trumpet
Dizzy Gillespie and his trademark black eye frames.

Dave Brubeck at Piano Wearing Eye Glasses
Dave Brubeck sporting his version of these iconic frames.

What attracted these powerhouse musicians to these frames? Likely the crisp yet curvy design appealed to their desire for free-flowing yet precise design, in both their music and their fashion. Or possibly the stark glossy black signified a simple yet distinctive way of rejecting overly-adorned and decorative styles that permeated post-war and 1950s culture. Regardless, these frames became symbols of cool, laid back self-confident creativity.

The influence of the original style was wide-reaching, as leading figures of rhythm and blues as well as the new rock and roll music adopted them.

Buddy Holly Wearing Glossy Black Eye Frames
Buddy Holly's glossy black frames became part of his image.

Elvis Costello Wearing Glasses with Guitar
Elvis Costello brought back the BeBop look in the late 1970s.

Eventually, these frames became an iconic look for intellectuals and scientists as well as creatives such as musicians, artists and actors, and are often seen on the faces of celebrities who seek to project a cool, cultivated bohemian look during red carpet galas.

Our version of these classic frames are called BeBops, to honor the music of the original wearers. BeBops have the same sweeping, arched "brows" at the top of the rims that suggest an internal focus, as if your mind is constantly at work. Our designers sought to replicate the beautiful and precise proportions of these famous frames, upon which much of their appeal is based. Plus, they're just so dang cool!

BeBops Tortoiseshell Eyeglasses
BeBops Demi Amber Tortoise Shell Frames

Once we had the proportions for BeBops down, we thought we'd try a tortoise shell version as well. After trying many different blends, we came up with Demi Amber BeBops, for those who want some subtle color about their eyes.