In 1968 Steve McQueen appeared in “The Thomas Crown Affair” wearing a pair of Persol PO 714 SM for the first time. It was the beginning of a mutual love affair. The actor wore them in almost all his films, he even had his own collection of this model. Years ago the Italian brand paid tribute to him by launching a Persol line Steve McQueen edition. Like a number of other famous sunglasses brands, Persol (a play on the Italian phrase “per il sole”, – “for the sun”) starts from very humble beginnings.
Turin 1917, Giuseppe Ratti, photographer and owner of Berry Ópticas, began an adventure destined to lead him to international success. In fact, it was in a small courtyard on Via Caboto that he began making goggles designed simply to keep dust out of the eyes of pilots and sporting drivers.
First came the “Protector” glasses which were originally made of smoked lenses, rubberized edges and elastic bands to keep them glued to your face. These designs were soon adopted by the Italian armed forces and various air forces around the world. In 1927, Switzerland also decided to use the design for its military division.
Persol was heading to the 1930s, and the committee approved the logo we see today, as well as the silver arrow (inspired by the swords of ancient warriors, in case you’re wondering) and the ” Meflecto “, patent that allows the arms to flex, making them more comfortable. The period also saw the birth of the “Victor Flex”, the three vertical lines on the bridge designed to help with the comfort and fit seen in some Persol pairs.
Then came the iconic Persol 649 in 1957. These sunglasses were designed to keep air and dust out of the eyes of the tram drivers in Turin, just like their Protector predecessors, a task they accomplished with ease. But it was the distinctive style of the 649 that led to success – and success became legend – when Marcello Mastroianni wore a pair in the 1960s in the comedy “Divorcio a la Italiana.” (Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) 1962).
Continuing his journey into the eyewear industry, Persol ended up in the US, where fashionable citizens, celebrities, and even NASA started shopping for his sunglasses. Soon, more and more stars began to embrace the Italian glasses, including Greta Garbo, Cary Grant or Steve McQueen who with their unforgettable films “North by Northwest” or “Bullitt” conquered the hearts and minds of both sexes. At this point, the brand had been immortalized by an impressive roster of big stars.
Persol likes to refer to their product as ‘a Persol work’. When you become a Persol user, you will truly understand why each piece resembles a work of art. Quality and class shine through on every edge. The lenses, made from natural materials, offer the exceptional clarity and protection that are the pride of the brand. These are glasses to be truly proud of. Many of their designs are very often copied. Fortunately, Persol says that its sunglasses are still handmade in the same factory in Turin.
You can question taste, one style or another, the preference for one brand or another, but what cannot be questioned is the quality of Persol glasses. Without the slightest doubt they have been and continue to be a benchmark of the best sunglasses.