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Celebrities That Made Aviators Famous

Shu Kie

Written By:

Shu Kie

Updated: 23 May 2024 •  
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Aviators might just be the most iconic style of frames on the planet. These cool-as-cucumber glasses are sprinkled through pop culture history with icons on screen, the red carpet, and the runways.
Aviators have a pretty cool history, starting in 1935 when American Optical made the D-1 style for the US Army. They were designed to provide optimum protection and safety for air pilots during flight. Since then, the style has been developed and ushered into mainstream style, especially the Ray-Ban styles.
But enough of the history lesson, let’s explore the celebrities and pop-cultural moments that made aviators famous!

1. Gloria Steinem and her Ray-Ban Shooters

The badass feminist activist and journalist Gloria Steinem was a powerhouse in the 1960s and 1970s. Her iconic look included straight, caramel-toned hair and a pair of blue-tinted aviators. Her chosen pair were the Ray-Ban Shooter glasses you might recognize somewhere else in the list!
gloria steinem wearing a pair of aviator glasses

Credit: Vogeu.

These gold-rimmed frames featured a little circle right below the top bar and between the frames. Hot tip, you can see these in action on Rose Byrne as she plays Gloria Steinem in the 2020 drama series ‘Mrs. America’.

Want the look?

Our very own Denica frames give you that gilded appeal if you’re after a pair of aviators for your new prescription or non-prescription specs.
denica in light gold flatlay view

Mouqy’s classic and versatile pair of Denica aviators.


2. Raoul Duke’s fear and loathing aviators

Johnny Depp played Raoul Duke in the 1998 Terry Gilliam film ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ based on the Hunter S. Thompson book. Even if you haven’t seen the film you’ll recognize Depp’s classic Hawaiian shirt, bucket hat, and gold Aviators. Like Gloria Steinem, this style was the Ray-Ban Shooter with the circle under the top bar but with amber-toned lenses.
raoul duke wearing a pair of aviator glasses

Credit: Amazon.

This style is creative, bold, and flattering on oval and heart-shaped faces. As odd as it sounds, this seems like a style for all you rebel Aquarians out there!

3. Tom Cruise’s iconic Top Gun specs

Did you think we were going to leave out the most iconic Aviator style!? Tom Cruise as Maverick in the 1986 film ‘Top Gun’ gave the Aviator a whole new existence in pop culture. These particular frames were none other than the Ray-Ban classic Aviators with gold frames and dark lenses.
tom cruise with a pair of sunglasses in the movie top gun

Credit: TechMarkup.

Thanks to the Top Gun reboot that came out recently, Aviator sunglasses are enjoying yet another moment in the spotlight (like they ever left!)

4. Marlon Brando in the Wild One

Marlon Brando was one of the best actors of his time, from ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ to ‘The Godfather’ his intensity lit up the screen. But it was the 1953 movie ‘The Wild One’ that saw him sizzle in a pair of dark Aviator sunnies, leather jacket, blue jeans, and motorcycle cap. This bad-boy biker image became iconic in the 1950s along with Brando himself.
So, which flavor of Aviator did Brando don? You guessed it, classic Ray-Bans. Like Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp’s characters, Marlon Brando in ‘The Wild One’ solidified the Aviators as the style for badasses, offbeats, rebels, and all-round cool guys and girls.
marlon brando wearing a pair of aviator glasses

Credit: Pinterest.


5. Freddie Mercury’s reflective aviators

Speaking of leather jackets and the coolest icons… Freddie Mercury, the beloved lead singer of Queen (and a style hero) also favored the Aviator style. One of Freddie’s most favored Ray-Bans had a silver frame and dark, reflective lenses. However, he was seen wearing a few different styles, some with paler, warmer-toned lenses.
freddie mercury wearing a pair of aviator glasses

Credit: vocal.media.

The reflective aviator style had a further revival in 2018 when Rami Malek (as Freddie Mercury) wore them in the biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

6. Robert Redford’s gold aviators

Robert Redford might be a lesser-known star to those born after 2000. He’s an actor and director who was a heartthrob in the 60s, 70s, and 80s (I mean, a young Rob Redford? Total babe). He’s known most famously for films such as ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, ‘Out of Africa’, and ‘The Way We Were’.
But back to the frames! In the 1975 film ‘Three Days of the Condor’, Rob wore a pair of aviator-style specs with a glossy gold frame and clear lenses. Since then, the man himself has been seen rocking aviator sunglasses in various iterations (usually very dark lenses!) on screen and especially off. In a way, Robert Redford is the most dedicated aviator supporter.
robert redford wearing a pair of aviator glasses

Credit: vogue.


Want the look?

To recreate his 1970s look, try the Jake frames in silver.
jake in silver flatlay view

Mouqy’s cool and sophisticated Jake eyeglasses.

Or for something a little richer and more impactful, try the stunning Aesthete frames. The thicker frame adds structure to the face while the tortoiseshell brings some toasty warmth.
aesthete in tortoise brown flatlay view

Mouqy’s dandy Aesthete glasses.


7. Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver

Last but certainly not least, we have Mr. Robert De Niro in the classic movie ‘Taxi Driver’. In fact, he also wore super-dark, thicker-rimmed Aviators in the 1995 film ‘Casino’ as well, yet another bad-boy character giving aviators a rebellious name!
But in ‘Taxi Driver’, he wore American Optical original pilot aviators with gold frames, dark lenses, and a slightly smaller size than what we are used to with the Ray-Ban styles.
De Niro’s style here had a slightly squarer shape than the classic teardrop, making them great for faces with rounder curves.
robert deniro wearing a pair of aviator glasses

Credit: Slash Film.


Want to look?

For that square aviator aesthetic you could try the Bachelor frames (for prescription or non-prescription specs wearers) in either tortoise or brown-silver. The tortoise style will bring depth and warmth to the face as well as a little classic luxe with the gold bar above the nose.
bachelor in tortoise brown flatlay view

Mouqy’s striking and luxurious Bachelor frames.


8. Jennifer Lopez (or should we say Affleck?)

Jennifer has worn every sunglass style under the sun, it appears, but she really makes a pair of aviators shine. Way back in the day we saw her in a pair of gold framed, light lensed beauties framed by her 00’s golden layers. More recently she’s been a fan of the dark, mirrored lenses with an oversized silver frame.
All the better to reflect the glare of the paps.
jennifer lopez wearing a pair of aviator glasses

Credit: Vogue and Pinterest.


Finding the perfect aviators for you

So, after all this gazing at celebrities and fictional icons you’re probably wondering where you stand when it comes to rocking the Aviator. Great news, most people look great in aviators!
The soft curves yet semi-straight top frame flatters oval, square, and heart-shaped faces beautifully. Very round faces might want to try something on the square side with sharper angles.
If you’re unsure, try our beloved virtual try-on tool! Get in there and have some fun trying different Mouqy aviator styles to find the perfect one for you. Will you be bad-boy Brando in dark sunnies or subtle Rob Redford in aviator specs?

Shu Kie

Written by:

Shu Kie

Shu Kie is Mouqy’s certified optician with over 5 years of experience in the optical industry. She earned her certification from Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO).

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