“Sunglasses? Who needs froggy sunglasses in this country?”
“L'état, c'est moi! Get it!! I am France and France is me”
Louis "Rabane" Quatorze (born 1638 in Paris (France), died 1715 ib.) is probably the most forgotten designer of sunglasses ever. This could be due to his having been born the same year as his soundalike Louis XIV, King of France. He spend most of his life in Versailles, trying to make the most of said peculiar coincidence. That coincidence was limited to the name and date of birth: no one could mistake this tiny person for their King, especially since he didn't follow the wig fad, which could have covered the shining bowling ball he used for a head. When in 1695 Wench Elisabeth and Mademoiselle Bouti cast their combined Evil Eye on the King, he felt very happy with the Royal Baldness! Besides that, he also well known for his statement "L'baguette, c'est moi."
Louis "Rabane" Quatorze was born on March the 5th of 1638, and exactly six months later, on September the 5th of the same year, the long awaited French Royal Heir, the so-called "Dauphin" was born. Nothing special so far, but on May the 14th of 1643, "Number 13" died, which added the XIV or "Quatorze" to the Royal Heir's name. And from September the 5th of 1643, things went wrong, because our Louis' family and friends confounded his birthday with the King's, making him have a birthday party twice a year. As a result, he celebrated his 6th birthday on September the 5th of 1643, his 7th on March the 5th of 1644, his centennial on September the 5th of 1690, and so on. His death on August the 31st of 1715 was a serious setback too: not only did he just miss his 150th birthday party, his death went unnoticed as well, because France's most illustrous king died on September the 1st of the same year.
On various occasions he claimed to revere spaghetti, which statement wasn't received very well by the French clergy. When asked why, he came up with a story about a "flying spaghetti monster" he pretended to have seen once, while having his dinner. Considered an artist, and therefore a bit "dans la lune" (yesterday we would have said "lunatic", nowadays we would say "looney", tomorrow we won't notice the difference anymore), he never got arrested for it, unlike his neighbour, Jean de la Fontaine, who claimed to believe in an fancy colored single-horned but nonetheless invisible horse-like animal . Now there they had a good catch, for how could he have checked all those features if the animal was invisible? Spaghetti, on the other hand, was, like everything Italian, quite popular in the France of those days.
You need to be a real genius when you invent sunglasses at a time when even glasses weren't very common. But he probably hoped that his soundalike's nickname would bring him the right (and rich) clients... His most famous (or less forgotten) design was the "Rabane" line, which also provided his nickname. Alas, although he claimed that you needed his sunglasses if you wanted to look at the King without being blinded, little were his customers. A bit less famous (or more forgotten) creation were the "Versailles" sunglasses. Unfortunately, due to lack of space on those XVIIth century glasses, and his being keen on fancyful lettering, he was unable to put the whole name on them, and he had to take it down to "Versace"
The sunglasses business not going that well, he also tried poetry. One of his most obscure poems is his "Tribute to the Thong Dynasty". That poem brought him even more dirty looks from the French clergy, especially when he claimed "having been there, done that". Linguists still aren't sure about the source of inspiration, but his eventful marital life (he married five times, without ever being a widower: a feat back then, back there) might have brought him an unusual look at relationships in general and fancy dress codes in particular.
Although a fine and audacious designer, marketing wasn't his cup of tea. These "modern" binocles just weren't accepted!
As happens with any fashion craze, Louis's glasses failed to sell so well when he got old, lost his teeth and became the size of a beached whale. For many years the desire for his glasses spread all over Europe with many other monarchs adopting his look - and if the king was feeling 'magnificent' - his second best wigs. Charles II and James II of Great Britain were particular fans but then the dour Dutchman William of Orange became king and banned further imports.
Louis threw Europe into war when the Spanish were offered a rival deal from Red Bull Austria. King Louis army of salesmen were beaten by the Duke of Marlborough. By the time war ended, the people of France were sick of Louis and his glasses, hoping that a new king would give them more options at "Les SpecSaver". Louis refused but then he died, his grateful subjects destroyed the hated spectacle wear. The new King Louis XV (being only five years old at the time) had no use for glasses so all surplus stocks of his great grand daddy's spectacles were destroyed and ground into pepper for the peasants.
Which is good news for anyone who is on a rummage. A pair of genuine Louis Quartoze glasses will cost you the grand sum of a crate of expensive Champagne.
- More about this item lies hidden beneath this plank.