Market Research: Gucci’s “‘L’Aveugle Par Amour’ Round Sunglasses”
Michael the III Isn’t Blinded By Love (Or Winter Light)
My sunglasses are made by Gucci. They come in a purple velvet case which gives them immediate, auspicious allure. They call to mind an ancient relic passed down from generation to generation—its magic powers unknown until unexpectedly unlocked. I saw a picture of Elton John wearing them, too.
The lenses reveal the world in gradient darkness. The information booklet tucked between its plum, silk dust bag and the certificate of authenticity can be read in 34 languages. It describes the level of sun coverage as “cosmetic” which sounds oddly glamorous. Their most recognizable attribute? The words "L'Aveugle Par Amour" circling each lens.
This motto itself can be quickly translated into ready-made English phrases like “blinded by love” or more broadly, “love is blind.” However, the sentence structure shows an objective focus. The direct translation is “the blind by love.” With a bit less poetry it suggests “the person who thinks with their heart, not the mind.” So you see, it is a state of life, not a stage of it.
Being blinded by love didn’t seem so appealing to me though. The love part was alright, but there’s something about not having control over one’s behaviour that bothered me. It sounded like the title of a cautionary fairy-tale, not the Disney kind at all: the story of a person over whom the veil of romance had been placed, rendering faults indistinguishable, or worse, forgivable. By the fourth date, the protagonist did not even notice there were pineapples on the pizza. No, I think that this one may not be for me.
If I were to have selected my own message to display on my face—from a spinning sunglasses display found in gift shops—my message would be nearer to “Joker by Trade” or “Naughty by Nature.” I could even settle for “Words and Music by Cole Porter.”
Let’s be real. If the eyes are the window to the soul, what does it mean to adorn them with a message? Why stop at just the window? Let’s get a new color for the walls, perhaps. Mauve carpeting for the floor of my soul. A lamp. A bookcase. One of those footstools that allow you to store blankets and remotes, and general clutter. On the shelf next to the Warhol, I wouldn’t object to having a eucalyptus-scented diffuser. But for the window to my soul, I’m not sure this was the right message. I might as well hold a sign that says, “free puppies.”
The morning after I received my sunglasses, I woke up uncharacteristically grumpy. It was the unique kind of surliness spurred from bad dreams, a kind of crabby countenance that needn’t bother you, but goes on doing so anyway. With no one to blame, I left my sleeping lover for a winter walk—I paired my puzzling new motto with my closet’s most romantic item: a black turtleneck onto which is embroidered a large, red rose nestled in the centre of the chest, my heart.
Outside, I grew concerned with the absurdity of my sunglasses. Sunglasses are often used to hide non-verbal forms of communication. You see them on a front-row Anna Wintour, professional poker players, or Paris Hilton off to jail. The underlying idea is to not reveal what you’re thinking. Rose colored glasses make the world rosier, so do mine make people think I actually care?
Later I found a park draped in fresh snow, fat squirrels leaping between the trees. I made further fashion statements by accessorizing my sunglasses with white earbuds through which fate had sent Kylie Minogue’s 1988 single, “Turn It Into Love,” that optimistic #1 hit (in Japan) with an elastic chorus you probably don’t remember. A baby Kylie Minogue sang to me the following:
If you can look inside your heart
And understand what's tearing you apart
You gotta trust someone
Don't let hate get in the way
Just turn it into love, turn it into love
And open up your heart
And you'll never feel ashamed
If you turn it, turn it, turn it into love
A week later, I happily awoke to a text from a friend wanting to meet for brunch—Dim Sum. By now, accessorizing my statement accessory was starting to try my patience. I might have tossed them angrily across the room if it weren’t for Gucci and Kylie Minogue. I attempted to create stylistic harmony between the sunglasses, a silk scarf and a bucket-hat from three seasons ago, but it wasn’t quite the right pairing. You gotta understand what’s tearing you apart. The old me might have flipped out, the new me flipped up the brim of my bucket hat. The line of my hat now smiled back at me. Just turn it, turn it, turn it into love, I thought.
After Dim Sum, I pierced my ears. It was my first piercing, I have no tattoos. Maybe I was “blind by fashion,” too? I inserted metal into my flesh to match a pair of sunglasses. It just could be self-love though. Is self-love the only love that is truly blind? I’ll know the answer to that question when I adopt a cat or a child or a highway in Northern Ontario. But for now my threateningly optimistic sunglasses with golden frames matched the new gold studs resting calmly in my ears.
Soon, my sunglasses and I were working as a team. If I wanted to see more clearly, all that was required was to lift my nose towards the sky to make my line of sight hit the lighter end of the lenses’ gradient, revealing the world almost exactly as it was. The glasses also encouraged people to stare and this suited me, too. At night I put the sunglasses on and I listened to Tchaikovsky. I wandered my city, standing in parks and sleepy, illuminated streets and hidden alleys, closing my eyes without anyone noticing. I observed handsome hosts in empty restaurants attempt the impossible task of looking busy. I stood in corners of nightclubs, letting the vibration of the music buzz erotic pleasures through the metal of my newly pierced ears like magic. I now could turn anything into love.
If things had gone my way I might have been a fashion archeologist by now. Etruscan sands would pepper my pillow each night and I’d wake up with antique riddles in my mind that I’d solve on a dime like—as just an example—what exactly do tiny, golden Gucci bees represent? From there, at age 50, I might evolve into something of an art historian. My lovers would complain that my fingertips taste of aged paper and I’d find that incredibly boring to hear. I might discover an object in the back of a familiar painting: tinted Florentine spectacles with a message inscribed in Roman characters. I might have accomplished all that but it was a 20-year-old Kylie Minogue who unlocked the secret of my Gucci glasses: if you can accurately identify and replace all energy spent in hate, heartbreak, guilt, shame, and destruction and repurpose it into love, why not be blinded by its vibrancy? Love is transparent anyway, not opaque. And after all, pineapples can be flicked off of pizzas.
There is an 1878 usage of “sun-glasses” that describes them as lenses allowing one to gaze directly into the light of the sun, to look directly for the first time at the dangerous heat of our lives. These sunglasses gave me permission to stare directly at the flame of love in order to stoke and study it. Their message bears a promise, not a declaration. “L’Aveugle Par Amour” is an intention. I took time to acknowledge the love I'd been given, good or bad, everlasting or not. When I removed my sunglasses in the open night, I had to squint.
Michael the III is a writer and photographer from Montréal. His work has appeared in Gayletter, Document Journal, THEFINEPRINT and more.