Their transformative powers cannot be overestimated. They change the way you see the world and the way the world looks back at you. Sunglasses: the highest-profile accessory one can place on one’s face.
And they have history. Roman emperors watched gladiators through polished gems, medieval Chinese judges used smokey quartz lenses in court to prevent their eyes from betraying the sway of their judgement, air force aviators blocked the sun’s rays with specially customised goggles, film stars and rock idols have been forging their identities with them since the advent of, well, film stars and rock idols. Beaches around the planet seem simply naked without them. Today, no individual feels quite as complete on the high street as when sporting their favourite version of tinted eyewear.
Want to choose a model that makes you feel just right, in the light of the sun, or the glitz of the night? Let us… ahem… illuminate the path for you.
Presented as masks with the power to unshackle multiple identities while protecting the individual who wears them, Kuboraum glasses are conceived by a sculptor-designer and an anthropologist in an ‘incubator’ that is literally at the cutting edge: the ‘pastpresent’ gallery-studio space, situated on the former border between East and West Berlin. There the designs are dreamt up by the talented duo and then handcrafted in Italy by their expert engineer associate. The specs bear no logo—the owner of each pair completes and signs it with their own unique features and personality. The geometric designs feel architectural, providing the comfort and security of a room with dimmed lights.
Like the dark side of the moon, it takes shades to make a star. A Frenchman in Hollywood, Jérome Mage, has imported his city of light savoir-faire to Tinsel Town. The luxury Jacques Marie Mage line caters to the demanding standards of LA society’s upper echelons, including those you know from the silver screen. Limited editions made of precious materials and with ethically-sound micro-production methods play with conventions, sourcing inspiration from Art Deco to American folk, aiming to “empower people to make personalised impressions” beyond hackneyed standards or fickle fashion.
Innovative always and high-end forever, Linda Farrow has been creating astonishing glasses with incredible shapes since the ’70’s, and collaborating with such exciting houses more recently as Dries Van Noten and The Row. It therefore shouldn’t be surprising that when she came together with audacious fashion designer Khaleda Rajab and accessories inventor Fahad Al Marzouq, both from Bahrain, the trifecta produced a thoroughly lovable and original frame, a most exaggerated cat-eye. With triangular tips like the ears of its muse, the shades are shown here in all black, but even more feral is the same frame, transparent with pink lenses.
A far cry from high-speed culture and “turbo capitalism”, VAVA’s philosophy is rooted in deceleration, purism and metaphysics. Running production out of a family-owned Italian factory, its aesthetic comes from cities such as Berlin and Detroit, cultural capitals forced to reinvent themselves in a post-industrial world, and possibly en route to a post-human one. Sharp lines and highly contrasted black and white tones stress the links between ‘Man and Machine’, endowing the wearer with a ‘mind over matter’ focused asceticism.
Factory 900 has been dubbed Japan’s most original eyewear designer, and LECLAIREUR is the only place in France where you can find out why. The secret to the 80-year-old factory’s success lies in its impressive exploitation of acetate plastic. Thanks to pioneering research, Factory 900 has developed the means to create frames that are far thicker than the norm, and sculpted into delightfully unusual shapes. The resulting ‘future-retro’ look has an exclusive following.
It’s also from Japan that John Lennon and Yoko Ono returned to the west, wearing their signature Mayfair model of round, tinted specs. These were designed and made by Hakusan Megane Opticals, which, founded in 1883, is still a household name in Japan.
Hakusan, yet once again, is only available in France at LECLAIREUR.
The sky is getting brighter each Februrary day up here in the northern hemisphere. We’re thinking, here comes the sun little darlin’—so go ahead and get out those shades.
Photography: Sylvain Lewis assisted by George Dragan
Creative direction: La Frenchy (Mary-Noelle Dana, Michael Hadida) & Sylvain Lewis for LECLAIREUR
Make-up: Kasia Furtak
Hair: Yumiko Hikage
Models: Alexia Giordano & Nico Berthery (@Marylin)
Styling by LECLAIREUR