From the Runway to Rihanna, These Chanel Pearl Sunglasses Are the Peak of ’90s Chic

This cheeky accessory is seriously fun.
Chanel pearl sunglasses
Chanel round pearl sunglasses, Spring/Summer 1994

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” This quote is famously attributed to Coco Chanel, who was known for chic, simple elegance that helped define 20th-century womenswear. However, Chanel was also quite the magpie, reportedly proclaiming, “A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls!”

The designer was often pictured sporting several long strands of pearls, and the gem has remained integral to her house’s aesthetic, never more so than under Karl Lagerfeld‘s acclaimed directorship in the 1990s. This pair of pearl-adorned sunglasses perfectly represents the house’s vivacious ‘90s vibe while embodying Coco’s earlier “more is more” attitude toward the use of pearls in fashion.

Chanel pearl sunglasses as featured in the house's spring 1994 runway show
The pearl sunglasses were featured in Chanel’s spring 1994 runway show.

“This was a key piece in Lagerfeld’s important Spring 1994 runway collection,” says Mila Evertz, of House of Carver, who is offering the sunglasses on 1stDibs. “Delicate yet sturdy, they are a prime example of what we today call costume jewelry, which Coco Chanel pioneered.”

Since their debut 30 years ago, the glasses have been sought after by collectors and copied by competitors. Refined but unpretentious, the round frames recall the mid-century glamour of stars like Bette Davis, who were often seen sporting the shape, and the exaggerated pearl accents bring a frivolity to the classic silhouette.

Rihanna in Chanel pearl sunglasses
Rihanna wore Chanel pearl sunglasses when she performed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2012.

Whether natural or faux, pearls are a consistent hit with high-profile collectors like Ariana Grande, who wore these sunglasses on tour in 2019, and Rihanna, who donned them for her performance at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2012. She even took Coco’s advice and paired the shades with a sumptuous faux-pearl Chanel choker.

Devotees of vintage fashion will likely recognize pearls as a Chanel signature, but the absence of logos is reminiscent of an earlier era, when most ateliers, including Chanel’s, produced jewels unsigned and sold them as part of a full couture ensemble. “They’re a true conversation starter,” Evertz says of the vintage sunglasses. “They don’t bear any logos but are distinctively Chanel.”

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