THE ICONIC HISTORY OF CAZAL EYEWEAR

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By Ivan Padilla

A paragon of 80s fashion, the name CAZAL is synonymous with luxury and hip hop royalty. Cari Zalloni (1937-2012) was an Austrian visionary who revolutionized eyewear design and created trends that were way ahead of their time. The name CAZAL is derived from the first letters of his names: CAri ZALloni. He acutely sensed that consumers wanted something extra with their sunglasses — they didn’t solely want basic protection from the sun but also wanted to make a statement. His super future aesthetic, appeal to celebrities, and flair for lavish design contributed to the brand’s cult sensation and success.

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CAZAL’s ultramodern sophistication can recurrently be seen denoted in the eyewear brand’s ad campaigns spanning across two generations and even now. The look is high fashion and hip hop with a habitual slant on color, lighting, styling or models looking towards the future. A symbolic part of hip hop’s legacy, the eyewear designer defined the typical hip-hop look of the 80s like no other brand. Some of the legendary designs from that era can still be seen trendsetting even now.

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The “It’s Like That” trio Run-D.M.C.’s Darryl McDaniels is widely attributed with ballooning the cult sensation of CAZAL eyewear in the 80s and altogether popularizing the iconic 80s hip hop look. He was a fan of the 607s — one of the first pairs ever released.


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In the 1986 comedy She’s Gotta Have It, Spike Lee’s first feature length film, he is seen starring as Mars Blackmon whose signature look included a pair of CAZAL’s. In addition to being a groundbreaking film for black filmmakers, the Air Jordan ad campaigns that followed featuring Lee’s iconic look alongside Michael Jordan are credited as a landmark in the evolution in sneakers into massively profitable items of fashion.

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In the world of west coast hip hop pioneers, Rodney-O and Joe Cooley are at the top and the “Everlasting Bass” duo could often be seen wearing CAZAL 951s and 955s.

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Especially popular among hip hop artists, today CAZAL can be seen worn by everyone from Erykah Badu to Amber Rose to Rihanna and Rick Ross, who famously tattooed the CAZAL logo on his face shortly before his 39th birthday.

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When our favorite Anaheim queen Gwen Stefani went solo, her second studio album The Sweet Escape featured album art of Stefani strikingly illuminated wearing a pair of CAZAL sunnies. CAZAL sunglasses can also be seen in the music video for her first single off of The Sweet Escape, “Wind It Up.”

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