The Iconic De Niro Casino Sunglasses: From Film to Fashion


When it comes to iconic Hollywood sunglasses, Robert de Niro’s portrayal of Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film “Casino” is hard to beat. The signature sunglasses, known as de Niro casino sunglasses, played a major role in de Niro’s on-screen persona and helped to define his iconic image. While the sunglasses were originally intended as a wardrobe accessory for the film, they have since transcended cinema and have become an unexpected fashion accessory, inspiring a slew of imitators. This article will dive into the world of de Niro casino sunglasses, their impact on film and fashion, and how they continue to endure as a cultural touchstone.

The Man Behind the Shades

Robert de Niro is one of the most celebrated actors of his generation, known for his transformative performances and intense dedication to his craft. From his early days in films like “Mean Streets” to his iconic role in “Taxi Driver,” de Niro has always pushed the envelope and challenged expectations. In “Casino,” de Niro plays Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, a Las Vegas mogul with a penchant for flashy suits and oversized sunglasses. The sunglasses, which feature a distinctive wrap-around design and reflective lenses, became an integral part of de Niro’s on-screen persona.

From Film to Fashion

As is often the case with iconic film costumes, de Niro’s casino sunglasses became an unexpected fashion accessory, appealing to fans of the film who were eager to emulate their hero’s style. The sunglasses were first incorporated into a fashion shoot by photographer Helmut Newton, who captured a sultry Christie Brinkley wearing the sunglasses in a 1995 issue of Vanity Fair. From there, the sunglasses took on a life of their own, appearing in fashion spreads and being imitated by other designers.

Sunglasses and Cinema

De Niro’s casino sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory, however. They have become a symbol of the actor’s on-screen persona – confident, brash, and in control. De Niro has a long history of using costumes and accessories to help him get into character, and the sunglasses are no exception. They help to convey a sense of invincibility and give “Ace” Rothstein a veneer of impenetrable coolness. The sunglasses have since become a shorthand for that kind of on-screen confidence, inspiring other characters and actors alike.

Behind the Lens

The story of de Niro’s casino sunglasses in “Casino” is a fascinating one. According to costume designer Rita Ryack, de Niro was initially resistant to the sunglasses, feeling that they were too flashy and not in line with his character’s personality. However, director Martin Scorsese was insistent, feeling that the sunglasses would help to make Ace Rothstein feel more imposing. Ryack eventually found a pair of sunglasses that satisfied both de Niro and Scorsese, and the rest is history. The sunglasses were made by the French eyewear house Alain Mikli, and the reflective lenses were created by coating the lenses in gold.

The Rise of De Niro’s Casino Sunglasses

De Niro’s casino sunglasses have had a profound impact on Hollywood and the perception of sunglasses as a whole. Prior to “Casino,” sunglasses were typically associated with cops and detectives, not leading men. However, de Niro’s sunglasses helped to change that, ushering in a new era of cool sunglasses and inspiring imitators along the way. The sunglasses have become shorthand for that kind of on-screen confidence, and have continued to appear in films long after “Casino” faded from theaters.

Deconstructing De Niro’s Casino Sunglasses

So what makes de Niro’s casino sunglasses so special? The sunglasses feature a wrap-around design that provides excellent sun protection, as well as projecting an image of authority and coolness. The reflective lenses, in gold or silver, add an air of mystery and make it difficult for others to read the wearer’s expression. The sunglasses are made of high-quality materials, including acetate and metal, which contribute to their durability and comfort. The sunglasses have a timeless quality to them, that still appeals to modern audiences even today.

Two Shades of Cool

De Niro’s casino sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory or a filmmaking tool – they also tell us something about de Niro’s acting style and personality. De Niro is known for playing complex, intense characters, and the sunglasses help to add an air of cool detachment to his performances. In a way, the sunglasses are a manifestation of de Niro’s acting style – sleek, stylish, and commanding. By wearing the sunglasses, de Niro is asserting his control over the character and the scene.


The de Niro casino sunglasses have come a long way from their origins as a costume accessory in “Casino.” They have become a cultural touchstone, inspiring a wave of imitators and defining de Niro’s on-screen persona. The sunglasses have also helped to change the perception of sunglasses in Hollywood, paving the way for a new era of leading men who aren’t afraid to wear shades. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of “Casino” or simply appreciate a great pair of sunglasses, the de Niro casino sunglasses are sure to remain an enduring symbol of coolness and confidence for years to come.

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