Vive Vuarnet! The icon of French eyewear, introduced in 1960, is making a comeback in the U.S. with the Vuarnet 002, a style not seen in these parts since the 1990s.
After the company's founding by French opticians Roger Pouilloux and Joseph Hatchiguian and marketing by downhill skier Jean Vuarnet, the rounded cat-eye frames with mineral-tinted lenses reached huge peaks in popularity. Donned by sporty fashionistas from the ski set of the French Alps to neon-clad beach volleyball teams in Southern California, the Vuarnet 002 shades seemed to be everywhere in the second half of the last century.
In 1984 Vuarnet was an official sponsor of the Los Angeles Olympic Games, and vintage five-ring branded Olympic Vuarnet sunglasses are still a hot commodity on eBay, where they fetch as much as $399.
But just more than a decade after the L.A. Olympics, Vuarnet stopped distributing in the U.S., and by 2000 production of the onetime bestselling 002 style came to a halt.
Now, with fashion giving a nod to the '90s, it seemed to be prime time for the Vuarnet 002 to return. In September the sunglasses were relaunched after being out of production for 14 years. Still made in France, the 002, priced at $245, hit Los Angeles in October and is for sale via at least two retailers: the newly opened Stag Provisions in Venice and Clare Vivier in Silver Lake.