Sunglasses L’allure gauloise by Jacques Marie Mage

When Jerome Mage launched his sunglasses line in 2015, no one wanted to invest in it. Her name, Jacques Marie Mage, it was a mouthful, they said, and the eyewear market was already saturated. Additionally, Mr. Mage’s designs – thick, substantial, with architectural weight – went against the prevailing minimalist look of the era. Oh, and they were very Dear.

But Mr. Mage has a track record that has allowed him to ignore these criticisms and move on. After all, the Frenchman has spent nearly two decades in Southern California; it was there that he built a career designing eyewear for labels like Spy Optic and Arnette. In fact, for him, glasses are less of an occupation and more of an obsession: he owns over 1,000 vintage pairs.

“I remember when my brother came home with a pair of Vuarnets,” he said one morning in his studio in the picturesque courtyard of the Granada Buildings, a Spanish colonial neo-colonial complex in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. “He was 15, I was 10 and I was like, “Wow, what is this?” “

As a designer object, sunglasses lie at the intersection of Mr. Mage’s greatest passions. “I studied sculpture and product design in Paris, so I wanted that kind of physicality,” he said. He wanted to create something that, like clothes, served as a vehicle for self-expression.

“What I love about glasses is that they are an amazing and sensual object, when you think about it,” said Mr. Mage, 47. “You slip it over your nose, it’s the first thing people see. It defines your face.

Today, most sunglasses come from a few conglomerates, making Jacques Marie Mage something rare: an independent label focused on craftsmanship. He specializes in classic silhouettes – aviators, cat eyes, travelers, wraparounds – and infuses them with a cinematic allure, a nod to his Los Angeles roots.

Frames are made from thick, sturdy cellulose acetate or streamlined, streamlined titanium; the lenses range from tinted translucent blues or yellows to impenetrable and distant black. Many are punctuated with a sexy touch of sterling silver hardware and barely noticeable details – a smooth edge here, an embossed groove there.

As such, they conjure up mental images of old-fashioned style icons, especially old Hollywood and the French new wave: McQueen, Delon. Many are named accordingly, such as the Yves, the Jagger, and the Seberg.

The company works with manufacturers in Italy and Japan, who use machines dating back to just after World War II. These machines require a lot of tweaking, and if this results in frames that are cut with less precision than mass-produced ones, it suits Mr. Mage perfectly. “The imperfections reveal a human touch and give our frame that warm and sensual finish,” he said.

The releases are small, no more than 500, and sell out quickly. Prices range from $ 575 to $ 895, with special versions costing over $ 2,000.

“They smell of the past, but there is an elegance that speaks to the world we live in today,” said the stylist. Georges cortina, who put the glasses on the face of Keanu reeves and Brad pitt in the pages of GQ.

In February, Mr. Cortina and JMM, as the label is colloquially known, released a capsule collection of two frames, produced in quantities of a few hundred. They sold so well that in June there was another release. This month JMM is doing a collection with actor Jeff Goldblum, who in recent years has grown into something of a horse clothing.

Mr Goldblum said his stylist Andrew Vottero introduced him to the JMM glasses. “These are just really beautiful items,” he said. “They are distinctive but not costumed – they feel real and genuine.” Hinting at the collaboration, he added: “Andrew and I had the idea that if you were to reduce me to just one item of clothing or accessory, it would be a pair of glasses.”

Mr. Mage himself has a striking figure in his thin-trimmed blazers, skinny ties, tight jeans, rocker boots, and hands adorned with silver and turquoise rings. Her hair is styled in an impressive mix of mohawk and pompadour. He has a Gallic appetite for existential introspection, and he’s a collector at heart: In addition to these vintage frames, he stocks Saint Laurent suits from the 1970s (between 50s and 60s), rocking boots, BMX bikes and more.

Despite his French origins, Mr. Mage feels a deep connection to the American myth. In September, he moved part-time to Jackson Hole, Wyo. He has long been drawn to the beauty of the region, so much so that he created a pair of sunglasses with Yellowstone forever, a non-profit organization that supports Yellowstone National Park and works with the Living with wolves organization. The pandemic gave him an excuse to establish more permanent roots.

It’s a far cry from life in Los Angeles; observations of a grizzly mom with her little ones made the headlines. “He’s our Kim Kardashian,” he laughed. While most of his employees, who total around 30, live in Los Angeles, he hopes to have around 20% in Wyoming at some point.

Sunglasses, one might say, are a key part of a certain type of myth. Mr. Mage has a hunch as to why. “Glasses allow you to be a different person,” he said. “Change your sunglasses and you change your personality.”

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