The Red Pill or The Blue Pill? Sunglasses Are Timothée Chalamet’s Preferred Reality

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Timothée Chalamet does it, so it’s fine. Wearing  sunglasses at formal events that are not necessarily outside seems like a stretch. But the social signaling of sunglasses in non-sunny contexts goes deeper than just a desire to appear mysterious and aloof. Late last year the release of  Matrix Resurrections - the fourth follow-up to the trilogy which ended (we thought) in 2003 - reawakened the esoteric within cultural consciousness.

To See or Not To See


The Matrix coined sunglasses as a motif for an entire generation of millennials, setting those who are “awake” apart from those that are still living in a blissful ignorance within the simulation. Elaborating upon the existential dread conjured up by the box-office breaking franchise, the film drew heavily on the gothic subculture popular in Germany after unification in the 1990s. Floor-length coats and combat boots were only half of the look. The presence of the slim, bug-eyed sunglasses hinted at the blown pupils consistent with possession in horror films. Paradoxically, wearing sunglasses began to signal a penchant for existentialism, or scepticism about the world around us. But at the philosophical heart of the film is the one thing we don’t have: Free Will.

Arguably, of course. 




It's a Whole Look 


To plunge deeper into the rabbit hole, The Matrix reimagined magical realism and cyberpunk by fetishizing cellular technology - something that existed in the form of brick Nokias and payphones which stood as life buoys amidst the urban grunge. Integral to the plot, these modern aesthetics of the 2000s bore heavily on sunglasses as reflective beacons of truth. The Matrix pushed boundaries for Hollywood productions, presenting ravenous action-film fans with dialogue such as, “We’re not here because we’re free, we’re here because we are not free,” and similar chestnuts. Encoded (pun intended) in our modern fashion sense, the enduring power of black on black, platform boots and insectile sunnies can all be attributed to Neo and Trinity.


Bespoke eyewear designer, Tom Davies, had long dabbled in the weird and wonderful before he was hired to create the sunglasses for Matrix Resurrections; Crafting glasses from meteorites before going on to make glasses for other kinds of cosmic material (read: movie stars). “If you look at a film franchise as big as Matrix… it’s famous for two things: mobile phones and sunglasses,” he said in a recent interview, “With the Matrix Resurrections I started off with a frame for Neo. Then I did Trinity’s and then it just kept coming.” 30 different styles crafted by Davies ended up appearing in the film, with a further 90 individual designs amounting to 300 frames submitted in total - no mean feat and a testament to how integral spectacles are to the visual language of the franchise. 


Timothée is a Red Pill Guy 


Out in the streets – pardon, the simulation - and failing dismally to disguise his recognisable, lanky frame under a hoodie, Timothée Chalamet is often photographed with a pair of sunnies at the ready, making his self-styled red carpet looks all the more sincere. Leaning away from the contrived and towards the genuine, he has opened the doors for a new generation to experiment with sunglasses at fancy events, without being accused of copying Robert Downey Jr. He often opts for a classic wayfarer frame, occasionally changing it up for a metal rimmed, slightly rounded frame. Always with his failsafe silhouette, the mere mortal among us can take a similar cue on our way to Becoming. 

Many have been sceptical of what a Matrix film could offer in 2022, when we are plugged into an alternate unreality more than ever, and our waking world resembles the dismal and nuclear war-ravaged Zion more closely every day. But the existential psychoanalysis it encourages around free will continues to engage new generations with the questions that drive us.

Free your mind, rock up unplugged, armed to the teeth with sunnies; Shop the latest at Glue Store.

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