CHANEL model A 40793 is a CHANEL boutique exclusive design tribute to Edward Melcarth’s infamous bat shaped shades. Originally designed by Melcarth for Vampira in the late fourties, these sunglasses were redesigned by Edward as butterfly shades 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 both Peggy’s butterfly and bat 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 bat shades. The modern sunglasses have been toned down and flatened. The central body of the bat has been taken away and the wings have been stylized to reminiscently resemble those of bats. The four spiked wings of Melcarth’s bat shades have been maintaned in CHANEL’s model A40793. What is very interesting to see is that the Melcarth bat shades were hand carved out of wod and covered with gold-leaf. Lagerfeld left a remiscent touch of hand craftsmanship when designing the CHANEL version of the bat shades by adding frame and temple slits in the A40793 model and telling the LUXOTTICA eyewear makers to apply thick golden paint into the slits by hand. Very classy!
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.
Lagerfeld also designed a wider pair of Peggy Guggenheim ispired butterfly shades for the same CHANEL 2009 cruise collection. The “butterfly” model, also included in sunglassespreservation archives, is model A40792. It is bigger than the “bat” model (A40793) and came in four different colors.
Model A40793 is made of black acetate. Very thick and sturdy. The frame, as well as both temples, bare carvings on their edges. The carvings have been handfilled with gold 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 gold. The lenses are graduated from dark grey to light blue.
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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