How Elvis Presley’s Iconic Sunglasses Inspired Those Seen In Baz Luhrmann’s Biopic


Elvis Presley was undoubtedly the king of rock and roll, but there is no denying that his bold sense of style has also gone down in history.

One of the many famous facets of the late musician’s style was his memorable collection of sunglasses, depicted in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic about Elvis, which is now in theaters with Austin Butler in the title role.

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“Elvis really liked sunglasses,” costume designer and production designer Catherine Martin says in an exclusive interview with Us Weekly’s Stylish magazine. “He’s been wearing them since the fifties, so the typical Elvis look is him in gold aviators.”

“He liked this particular style of sunglasses so much that he made them with all kinds of lenses, both gold and silver, which we were lucky enough to recreate for the film,” she continued.

She commissioned Rhode Island eyewear brand Foster Grant to recreate some of the singer’s most famous images in sunglasses, two of which are standout moments in the film.

The sunglasses themselves were not an “exact copy” of Presley. (Otherwise, according to Martin, they would look like a “Halloween costume” on Butler).

Instead, they were adapted to Butler’s physiognomy with minor changes to their functions to make them ready to shoot.

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The first one? “He wears their sunglasses when he’s on a Hollywood sign chatting about a reboot of his career and a ’68 special comeback: black rectangular frames that she says were ‘hotly contested’ on set.

“People, including Baz Luhrmann, my husband, noticed these sunglasses and may have been a little frivolous with one of the couples,” she admits.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

One of the problems with dark frames of this type was that you could see Butler’s expression while maintaining the historical accuracy of the sunglasses. “We had so many different lenses made in different

different colors, because on camera you really want to understand what the actor thinks and feels,” she explains.

And, of course, his iconic custom aviators with his initials in the center and the inscription “TCB” on the sleeves, which he wore “from the very end of the sixties to the seventies,” says Martin.

Foster Grant

“We made very subtle changes to the way they were originally designed so that the initials were legible on the screen,” she continued. “When they were photographed. In fact, they were shiny, chrome-plated, but we made them more rough so that when photographing you could read the initial “EP”.

“We wanted Elvis’ style to be respected and to be an interpretation, not an imitation,” Martin says. It’s safe to say that she and the team succeeded.