André Courrèges's Space Age fashions of the mid-1960s featured structured silhouettes and sleek, lunar white accessories. Focusing on structure over ornamentation, Courrèges designed slim, ankle-length trousers to be worn with tunics or boxy tops and mini-dresses that barely skimmed the knee. These bold, forward-thinking designs were a shock to haute couture clients accustomed to an overtly feminine aesthetic. Consequently, Courrèges's clients were young and daring. French pop star Françoise Hardy, socialite Lee Radziwill, and model Marisa Berenson all wore Courrèges. In the words of a New York Times fashion correspondent, the designer's "direct, unencumbered clothes are only for young, fast-moving beauties."1
These white plastic sunglasses were an integral part of Courrèges's Space Age look. With their narrow horizontal slits, they suggest protective goggles or the eyes of an alien being. Either way, they accentuated the otherworldly look of Courrèges's models as they walked the runway in his sharply modern designs. Imported from France, the sunglasses retailed in the United States for $4, about $30 in today's dollars.
The popularity of Courrèges's Space Age designs spawned legions of knock-offs and versions of Courrèges's spare, A-line mini-dresses soon appeared on the street. Very few of these garments were actually labeled Courrèges. Custom copies were created by Bergdorf-Goodman and other high-end retailers, while ready-to-wear manufacturers like Kimberly produced off-the-rack knit dresses inspired by Courrèges. Jacqueline Kennedy supposedly wore a Bergdorf-Goodman version of a Courrèges suit when she visited Runnymede, JFK’s memorial in Surrey, England. This short-sleeved dress can be seen in a brief 1965 video. Featuring both Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth, it inadvertently contrasts Jackie Kennedy's fashion-forward style with Queen Elizabeth's more conservative taste.
Even these unusual sunglasses inspired knock-offs. A 1965 ad featured a variety of white plastic sunglasses, including Sea & Ski's "Boy Watchers." With a horizontal slit bisecting dramatically narrow lenses, they were clearly inspired by Courrèges's Space Age aesthetic. Retailing at $2.95, they were only slightly less expensive than authentic Courrèges sunglasses.
1 Peterson, Patricia. "The Young Go Courrèges" New York Times (May 16, 1965) SM66.