/ 9 September 2008

Blue-tinted lenses: Fashion trend for ageing male stars

Artist Damien Hirst appeared on the cover of Time this week in a pair of oversized blue-tinted spectacles, alongside the headline ”Artist as Rock Star”.

That’s fine; he’s always been a maniacally obliging subject for photographers. But then he appeared on BBC News in the same glasses, forcing the viewer to confront the possibility that they are no mere prop. They’re really his. He wears them to see out of.

Hirst is just one of a growing army of middle-aged — and older — gentlemen who seem to feel they suit tinted lenses.

Bono made them something of a trademark, of course, as did Ozzy Osbourne. Figures as outwardly unlike one another as Tim Burton, Mickey Rourke and Flavio Briatore seem to be trying on frames from the same shelf. It’s one of those strange, celebrity-only fashion trends you don’t really see replicated in the streets.

What are they for? Certain tints, such as yellow, are meant to improve visual acuity, but ”cosmetic” or ”fashion” tints don’t do anything. They’re like sunglasses you can put on at night without bumping into stuff because, luckily, they don’t work. Even the traditional reasons for wearing sunglasses indoors — either ”I have a black eye” or ”I don’t want anyone to know how stoned I am” — don’t apply here because everyone can still see your eyes.

Past a certain age, even the least vain man will happen to notice that he suddenly looks better in glasses, if only because there is less of his face on display.

Perhaps someone is telling our celebrities that the added tint disguises wrinkles and bags even further. It’s possible that wealthy people buy tinted glasses simply because they are wealthy and tints cost extra. Or maybe thick, varifocal lenses look somehow less aggressively corrective when they’re blue.

Sadly, the most likely reason that these guys are wearing tinted glasses is because they believe tinted glasses are cool.

It’s not that a middle-aged man can’t carry off a cool look; it’s just that he doesn’t know what cool is. And even if he found out, they’d just change it behind his back to spite him. When you get older, things become uncool simply by virtue of the fact that you like them. The only way to win the battle is to give up. And if you can’t see that clearly, then you need to take off those stupid glasses. — guardian.co.uk