Friday, April 15, 2011

Risky Business

Yesterday I collected from my optometrist a new pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, specifically the traditional Wayfarer model made popular many years ago by such people as Tom Cruise in the movie “Risky Business” (though there were many other movie stars and celebrities who sported them as well). Only two years ago while killing time waiting for a plane in the Fort Lauderdale airport I was thrilled to discover a re-invented issue of the Wayfarer model. It was slightly smaller in size than the pair I purchased yesterday, and it was the tortoise shell colour rather than the traditional black plastic which identifies the original larger and heavier style.

What interests me about this bit of fashion isn’t just that the design (originally produced in 1952) proved to be such a huge success for the then Italian-based company Bausch & Lombe by creating a revolutionary break from the metal eye ware of the past, but that there has been such a revival of the fashion only relatively recently. As I say, the model I bought yesterday is a replica of the original, not merely a twist on it, as the other pair were. Further feeding my amusement with what has been described as the best-selling design of sunglasses in history is the more immediate interest of my own (and much younger) niece in these vintage frames. Only a matter of days ago I noted that she too was sporting a new pair of Ray-Ban glasses. In fact if my niece (who by the way has a close professional alliance with both photography and graphic design) is considered a vanguard barometer of popular culture (which I think she is, as she has proven on more than one occasion), it illustrates that given enough time, all that is old becomes new again. Likewise it is no accident that my niece prefers the Beatles (as I myself do) to all that other crashing so-called music which has been around for a while. Let me add, however, that I strongly qualify the cyclical nature of these particular preferences by saying they are both in my opinion founded on very firm ground. These glasses and the Beatles are classics. I am confident that my niece has the inherent good taste to recognize that, and she is thus spared merely following the ephemeral trail of current fashion.

By a similar quirk of fate, my niece (who I am happy to add is also my god-daughter) took a keen interest in the gold pocket watch, chain and fob I was wearing the other day at luncheon. This watch belonged to my paternal great-grandfather, which of course gives added significance for my niece who is likely to inherit it. My niece and I appear to be moving in tandem on these subjects of fashion. It is for example only within the last three months that I have revived an especial interest in pocket watches which by virtue of my advanced age and protuberant belly are now inestimably suitable. I confess the development is not entirely coincidental, as it was my father who lately kindly bestowed upon me two additional pocket watches (one a traditional gold type, the other a large steel or silver railroad watch) which he himself inherited over time from his father and uncle respectively.

As final confirmation of the adage that what’s bred in the bone will out in the flesh, my niece, my father and I all share an avid interest in automobiles, particularly of the luxury models. It is comforting to know that one’s things can be assured such a receptive devolution. There’s nothing risky about that business!

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