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Harbour Island Raffia glasses by Robert Marc, $575 at Josephson Opticians (www.josephson.ca).
Harbour Island Raffia glasses by Robert Marc, $575 at Josephson Opticians (www.josephson.ca).

Summer's hottest sunglasses Add to ...

If Environment Canada is correct, this summer will start out sunny and warm in many parts of the country. That means it'll soon be time to pull out the sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses hot enough to match the weather. Conveniently, sunglass designers have banished recession woes from their minds and come out with fun, colourful models for every occasion, whether it's lounging on the beach or lolling on an urban patio.

For the fashionistas, there are big, square sunglasses with rounded edges. Channelling Jackie Onassis, these offer lots of sun protection and take up enough real estate on the face to guarantee knockout status. Converse, among others, has a pretty purple model with swooping arms. Purple, incidentally, is definitely sticking around as a fashion colour. If you can't find your favourite designer's sunglasses in purple, then someone is stocking old sunglasses. The colour is in just about every collection this year.

Converse also picks up on another hot design trend: gradient sunglasses that feature darker colours at the top of the frames and transition to lighter colours below. Converse uses purple and crystal to great effect, while L.A. Eyeworks, an iconic California design house, offers a striking tortoise and purple combo.

L.A. Eyeworks can always be trusted to come out with something interesting. Why are they especially great at sunglasses? Perhaps because the designers, Gai Gherardi and Barbara McReynolds, started the company while hanging out on California's beaches. One of their standouts this year is Fortuna, a big, two-toned oval sunglass that comes in such arresting pairings as black and translucent teal.

Blue-greens such as teal and turquoise are rising stars this season, beginning to edge into the territory purple now holds. Sunglass collections also contain more yellow, crystal and white than usual. Tortoise, meanwhile, remains dominant, but orange is also coming in.

At the same time, natural materials such as bamboo and snakeskin have been popping up all over fashion in recent years, including sunglasses. New York designer Robert Marc, a maker of perennially elegant and well-crafted frames, made truly beach-worthy sunglasses this year. Harbour Island, in a soft coral shade, has raffia embedded in the plastic arms. The woven material gives the frames appealing texture and will instantly transport you to a lazy chaise in the tropics.

Of course, it's impossible to talk about sunglasses without mentioning the pilot. For several years, the classic aviator and navigator shapes have been everywhere, easily identified by their plunging lenses and double bridges. This season, designers are giving them a modern twist.

Fendi has done away with the double bridge, straightened out the top and translated it into cola-coloured plastic for a solidly contemporary look. Designers of Fendi sunglasses always pick up on the brand's other accessories and this year it's a gold belt buckle complete with rivets.

For pure fun, finally, there's Betty, a playful, rounded-off square model from Face à Face Paris. Combining metal and plastic has been a big eyewear trend in recent years, and Betty features a solid-coloured front in thin metal and wide, teardrop-shaped temples in brighter plastic. The top eye wire wraps around and overlaps the bottom in a cute bob, reminiscent of Betty Boop's hair.

Here's hoping Environment Canada got it right.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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