CHANEL model A 40792 is a CHANEL boutique exclusive design tribute to Peggy Guggenheim’s loved and infamous butterfly shaped shades. Originally designed by Edward Melcarth as bat shades for Vampira in the late fourties, Edward then redesigned them as butterflies for Peggy Guggenheim. Karl Lagerfeld presented the CHANEL fall/winter 2009 cruise collection at the Lido in Venice, Italy. The collection was inspired by Venitian baroque and, being himself an avid art lover, Lagerfeld had to add the Guggenheim tribute by creating a revisited model of Peggy’s butterfly sunglasses.
You can see model Lara Stone wearing the original Melcarth bat shades in a wig used for the CHANEL catwalk show at the bottom of this post.
The model we see here is a “CHANEL-lized” version of Melcarth’s Guggenheim butterfly shades. The modern sunglasses have been toned down and flatened. The central body of the butterfly has been taken away and the wings have been stylized to reminiscently resemble those of insects. The biggest difference, however, remains the change in the design of the butterfly wings. The original Melcarth butterfly shades had three spikes per wing while the CHANEL versions maintain four spikes for both “bat” and “butterfly”. In fact, both models (A40792 and A40793) resemble more a bat than a butterfly. The four spikes might have been done on purpose to avoid Luxottica any copyright legal complications due to the fact that Safilo holds the rights to reproduce the Peggy Guggenheim three spiked Butterfly sunglasses which can be purchased in all Guggenheim shops.
A total of four different colors of model A40792 have been produced:
S0164 (which you can see here) – black acetate with silver line-frame
S2278 – black acetate with gold line-frame
S6079 – transparent crystal acetate with gold line-frame
S8791 – transparent gray acetate
Lagerfeld went further for the same CHANEL 2009 cruise collection and designed another pair of Edward Melcarth inspired shades. The second model, a tribute to the “bat” shades, is also included in sunglassespreservation archives: model A40793. It is a narrower, more dangerous and sharp looking version.
Model A40792 is made of black acetate. Very thick and sturdy. The frame, as well as both temples, bare carvings on their edges. Depending on which colorway code, the carvings have been handfilled with either gold or silver paint. This is a very difficult and long process which leads to minor imperfections in the paint application. The temples both bare double “C” logos on their outer ends. The double “C” logos are also carved inside the acetate and have also been hand painted in either gold or silver. The lenses are lightly silver mirroired/polirized and graduated.
The CHANEL models A40792 and A40793 were both boutique exclusives and were not available for purchase outside the CHANEL boutiques worldwide.
A third CHANEL boutique exclusive pair of sunglasses was also produced for the CHANEL fw09 cruise collection. The third model (A40803) is a CHANEL take on Venitian masquerade ball masks.
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