Monday, 10 June 2013


Persol is an Italian luxury eyewear company specializing in sunglasses. The name is derived from "per il sole," which, in Italian, means "for the sun." Formed in 1917 by Giuseppe Ratti, Persol originally catered to pilots and sports drivers. Presently, the company is famous for its durable sports sunglasses. Its trademark is the silver arrow (often referred to as the "Supreme Arrow"), and several of the company's glasses feature this symbol.
Persol was a heavy influence in the production of sunglasses. The company developed the first flexible stem. This flexible stem system is known as the patented Meflecto system and was one of the first spring hinges ever developed for eyewear. Persol was introduced to the United States in 1962. Its first boutique opened on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles in 1991. It is currently owned by the Luxottica group. Currently all "plastic" Persol eyewear is hand crafted in Italy using cellulose acetate, a hypoallergenic material derived from cotton.
Steve McQueen popularized two Persol models: the 714 folding sunglasses and closely styled 649. He wore a special pair of 714's with blue lenses inThe Thomas Crown Affair and was often photographed wearing the 649 model. Persol models 2244-S and 2720-S were both worn by Daniel Craig in the James Bond film Casino Royale. Pierce Brosnan wore Persol model 2672-S as James Bond in the film Die Another Day and then Persol model 2720-S in Mamma Mia! Don Johnson wore a Persol 69218 during Season Three of Miami Vice.
Persol sunglasses have also been used in other movies, Bill Murray can be seen wearing them in both Lost in Translation and Broken Flowers. One of the most iconic images of Persol sunglasses can be seen in the movie Divorce Italian Style where Marcello Mastroianni wears a pair of black 649s; Mastroianni also has a pair of Persol sunglasses on in almost every scene in the movie La Dolce Vita. In addition Nicolas Cage wears them in Lord of War. Robert Culp, as Kelly Robinson, in the iconic I Spy TV series in the 1960s sported Persols 2656S in many episodes. InMission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Tom Cruise can be seen wearing a 2978 model. In Entourage Season 7 premiere Ari Gold played by Jeremy Piven wears Persol 2958S. Stephen Dorff can be seen wearing them in Sofia Coppola's Somewhere_(film). Ryan Gosling and Patrick Dempsey have been spotted wearing the PO2994S.

Turin 1917, Giuseppe Ratti, photographer and owner of Berry Opticians, began an adventure destined to lead to international success. Indeed, it was in a small courtyard in Via Caboto that he began to make technically advanced glasses, designed to satisfy the demands of pilots and sports drivers who required comfort, protection and optimum vision.

Subsequent development of the Protector model, guided by an intuition and determination to create truly revolutionary sunglasses in terms of quality and ease of wearing, led to the creation of the Persol trademark (Persol from “per il sole” meaning “for the sun”, highlighting their function of protection against the sun’s rays).

The extraordinary characteristics of this innovative product were its neat design, crystal lenses (the pride of Persol), the Silver Arrow (both a functional detail and unmistakable decorative element) and the Meflecto patent, a system studied to make the stems flexible and offer maximum comfort.

The late 1930s saw the introduction of the Meflecto system, the world’s first flexible stem that is still today a distinctive feature of the Persol brand. The stem’s flexibility derives from the introduction of nylon or metal cylinders intersected by a stainless steel core providing absolute comfort and adaptability to any face.

This period also marked the creation of Persol Victor Flex, an application of the Meflecto concept. A real fountain of technology, the glasses were equipped with a flexible bridge (the "3-notch bridge", still used today in model 649) that creates a comfortable curve and improves fitting. A further internal metal reinforcement is applied to the stems of new models to allow their adjustment both in length and curving.

This period also marked the birth of the Silver Arrow, Persol’s unmistakable symbol: a hinge decorated with an arrow on the stem, inspired by the swords of ancient warriors. This innovation, born of Ratti’s intuition, was immediately patented in several countries.

Various versions of the arrow followed until development and technical and design adjustments led to the “Supreme” arrow, that still today distinguishes the Persol trademark. As both a functional detail and decorative element, the arrow soon brought Persol international recognition (and copying) of its very particular style.

Model 649, built for tram drivers in Turin who needed large glasses to protect their eyes against the air and dust, was created in 1957. The novelty of its design made it a very successful pair of glasses, copied over the years by many competitors, and in 1961 they entered into legend when Marcello Mastroianni wore them in the film “Divorce Italian Style”.

Protected by several patents and registered trademarks, model 649 (still today of great relevance and present in collections) represents the symbol par excellence of Persol design. Thanks to its particularity, in a 1994 French book entitled “Qualità: scènes d'objets à l'italienne" it was included among the objects most representative of the Italian creative genius of yesterday and today.

In the 1960s Persol became a source of real pride for Italian industry. Production was extended to work goggles - the Labor model were protective goggles for welding, with specific filters for various uses. It was a highly researched and specialized line, holding over 35 international patents, that took the Persol brand name to the top of the world’s eyewear industry.

1962 was the year in which the United States market was conquered (though Persol had already been supplying NASA with the “four-lens” model).

At that time Persol glasses were more and more often being worn by top personalities of the period, not only pilots and sportsmen but also film and television stars such as Greta Garbo and Steve McQueen, who chose Persol both on the set and in everyday life.

The 1980s extended the considerable attention that Persol had always paid to technological innovation and care for its products. Indeed, it took part in several expeditions to test its lenses at high altitudes and in the desert, verifying their performance in extreme conditions, and to experiment with the use of innovative materials. 

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