American Icons: Steve McQueen

Sure, there are plenty of American icons that can be considered “cool”; but there can only be one Steve McQueen. Referred to as the King of Cool, McQueen was an American actor whose emblematic image transcended the world of film and television. Through his award-winning acting and larger-than-life demeanor, Steve McQueen helped redefine what it meant to be cool throughout the 1960s.

Beginning with his memorable role as the mysterious bounty hunter, Josh Randall, in Wanted: Dead or Alive; McQueen exemplified the modern American anti-hero. He then went on to successfully make the difficult transition from television to the silver screen. McQueen’s cool and confident disposition propelled him to film mega stardom, as he became one of the highest-paid actors of his time.

McQueen’s real-life image did not stray far from the rugged stoicism he portrayed in such films as Bullitt, The Thomas Crown Affair, and The Sand Pebbles. He made rebellion look almost effortless and he had a way of exuding machismo without saying a single word. McQueen had also developed quite the penchant for racing cars and motorcycles throughout his career, and became known for performing his own stunts during filming. His daredevil tendencies combined with a man-of-few-words persona, helped solidify his status as the King of Cool.

Exploits aside, McQueen’s cult status had just as much to do with his rugged-yet-debonair approach to style. One of the definitive characteristics of McQueen’s look was his choice of eyewear; the Persol 714.  A staple of the eyewear industry for almost a century, Persol remains one of the marquee names in luxury sunglasses. The Persol 714 series personifies elegance and was a trademark feature of Steve McQueen’s iconic look.

Words of an Icon: “I live for myself and answer to nobody.” –Steve McQueen

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