Nearly 24 years ago, Kurt Cobain’s signature identifier (other than his grunge aesthetic, dirty-blond strands, and destroyed low-slung denim) was a pair of women’s white oval sunglasses from Christian Roth’s 6558 series. Cut to present day and the current nostalgia for all things ’90s, and these throwback shades are suddenly everywhere as the ultimate homage to the late Nirvana frontman — especially among rappers.
During weekend 1 at Coachella alone, Pharrell and Takeoff of Migos both wore similar white oval frames. Last month, Playboi Carti performed at SXSW in Acne’s Mustangs in a pink version. And in the last two years, Jay Z, Wiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane, Harry Styles, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty and Ian Connor have all been snapped wearing the style.
“Acne only launched eyewear two years ago, and the Mustang is the thing that really blew up; it’s become our go-to sunglasses — as soon as we get them in, people freak out and they sell out,” says Kyle Green, client adviser at Acne. “It’s definitely a huge nod to Kurt Cobain, and I think a lot of rappers are taking on this modern-day rock-star persona.”
The Acne Mustang, with its exaggerated shape and considerable oval shape, is nearly identical to Cobain’s original (the Mustang was also initially designed for women, but Green says that interestingly enough, more men are buying them). Soon after, then-creative director Hedi Slimane topped his Saint Laurent spring 2016 menswear collection with white oval frames.
“I believe it’s a culmination of the ’90s and the runways,” muses Marcus Paul, stylist to Desiigner and Zara Larsson, on the popularity of white oval sunglasses. “I’m not surprised by the trend, especially after Hedi Slimane, who is a rocker in every sense of the word and very influential in the fashion industry, opened the [Saint Laurent] show with the sunglasses. They’re cool for the right person.”
Of course, Cobain wasn’t the first person ever to wear white oval sunglasses (Audrey Hepburn wore a pair in 1965), but it’s his relaxed, too-cool attitude that so many strive to emulate.
“[Opening Ceremony] stocked the Acne Mustang sunglasses and they were sold out within a day,” says Allen Parker, sales associate at Opening Ceremony, who personally bought a pair for himself. “I think a lot of people want to be retro and want the Kurt Cobain vibe, and I think at this point, these sunglasses are pretty mainstream. I love them, but I sometimes hate how many people have them now.”