The right pair of shades can make anyone feel like a celebrity. There is a transformation that occurs that can’t quite be explained, as a stylish pair of specs glide up your nose and the whites of your eyes slowly disappear behind the lenses. When it comes to luxury eyewear, Christian Roth transformed how the world looks at optical fashion, both inside and out. It’s been 30 years and Christian Roth is still adored by celebrities and those who want to feel like a star. In 1984, Eric Domège and Christian Roth founded Christian Roth eyewear. The company is independently owned and operates from the design duo’s studio in Miami Beach, Florida.
Co-founder, Eric Domège, tells me, “It all started when celebrity culture was much different. It was not about endorsement or gifting. The celebrities with or without their stylists actually chose their own accessories. And when they found the right pair of sunnies, they just were happy to wear them! We are very privileged, style makers of yesterday, today and tomorrow still have the same attitude with our collection.”
These leading optical designers have been taking the visionary world by storm, for three decades and it all started with Andy Warhol.
The 1980s were defined by incredible fashion trends, like big shoulder pads, parachute pants and wild sunglasses. Andy Warhol was a key influence in the eyewear market that defined his own personal style and decade. “When it all started, he loved our design at first sight and had it made as an optical frame. It changed his famous look! Same year, we shot our first campaign with the model, Rudy, with Norman Watson, on the background of the legendary USS Intrepid, Andy loved the picture and signed many prints for us,” says Eric.
When I think back to my own 1980s fashion eyewear, I remember a pair of white-rimmed sunglasses with black speckles of paint and mirrored lens. As it turns out, one of my favorite films of the times influenced my choice of shades. Until now, I had no idea that Christian Roth had been my inspiration. “Rosanna Arquette, you remember ‘Desperately seeking Susan’, Madonna came to our showroom with her stylist Maripol and chose this frame for Rosanna. The blue mirror made a splash … and will continue to do so!”
Matthew Modine is a 1990s icon, with his laid-back, cool look, along with many other 90s celebs. As we dive deeper into this era, flashbacks are being clearer and again, I realize the influence the Christian Roth brand has played in the world of optical fashion. Eric talks about the many fashion icons that made their statements with their brand, “Matthew Modine was being shot for L’ Uomo Vogue, promoting ‘Wind’. At his personal request, he asked to be photographed with an oversized optical frame which we had just released in Milan during the MIDO optical fair. Still the days when everybody wore tiny spectacles.
“Stella Tennant was one of favorite Karl Lagerfeld runway models in the 90s. We accessorized Karl Lagerfeld’s show for Chloe and his own brand. Stella kept one of the runway pieces and was shot with this design many times.
“Kate Moss, since her debut, she is a big fan of our large sunnies to hide and to disguise. One of our favorite pictures of her for Vogue Magazine, when she wears our opticals, was very inspiring and sending a strong message: Boys are starting to make passes at girls who wear glassses. Talking about Kate, Royston Langdon’s Space Hog was to become the husband of her best friend, Liv Tyler. Royston started to wear Kate’s sunglasses after she gifted him. The metrosexual trend started!”
The 2000s to Present:
Over the last decade and a half, Eric and Christian’s designs still are having an impact on the red-carpet elite. Eric tells me of one of his most dedicated customers, rock star and guitar genious (and yes, I am a fan) Lenny Kravitz. “Lenny Kravitz, one of our most faithful customers, visited us in the mid 90s in our NYC showroom and was fascinated by our designs. He became a source of inspiration, and was spotted in our designs since then.” Perhaps Lenny Kravitz is referencing his fashion eyewear with his song, “Are You Gonna Go My Way”? I have to wonder. Mr. Kravitz is a living portrait of fashion, so my mind wanders and imagines that his fans follow in his footsteps like the Pied Piper, all wearing funky pants and donned in Christian Roth “sunnies”.
As I snap back to reality he tells me of their influence via film and photography. “Diane Krueger, from modeling to stardom after Quentin Tarantino’s film ‘Inglourious Bastards’, chose Christian Roth for a movie star attitude! Agyness Deyn, is also a great story. Our dear friends and photographers, Jannis Tsipoulanis and Rene Habermacher, shot our campaign and discovered a new face. Then, she was known under the name Agnes. One season after our campaign, she changed her name, landed major advertising campaigns and became the IT girl of the 2000s! It took us a while to realize it was our Agnes.”
One final story he can’t help but share with me, before we talk about their 2015 collection, is R&B pop star Rihanna. “Rihanna, today’s fashion icon, found our sunnies in Karl’s studio and could not resist, they became hers! Cute story. After a recent Chanel show, Karl and Rihanna were photographed together, wearing both our designs! We love this picture.”
The more I learn about the history of Christian Roth, the more I find myself searching their website for my next pair of sunnies. Their website is filled with dramatic photos of fabulous people in scenes that look like they are out of a movie. As I flip through the pages, I find I’m drawn to a pair of gorgeous Hollywood-style frames called “Pop Power 2” from their new collection. The round lens in the tortious shell frame have my name written all over it. The fact that model Laurenne Juliet is posing in these beauties, in front of an old-fashioned Pepsi machine, is a sign that these must be mine.
The “Pop Power 2” design is just one of a myriad of new styles in the 2014/2015 winter collection, and they are all quite brilliant. These designers have been able to define the eyewear fashion market and still continue to amaze and impress the market, and they’ve been at it for 30 years. Here is what Mr. Christian Roth has to say about their new collection. “A tribute to Abstract Geometric Art Form, this new collection is made with love in elegantly stylish acetate materials. They are Happy Shades and composed by Essential Shapes.”
Eric Domège adds, “And they are tweaked for double duty: opticals and sunglasses designed to step up your style, by infusing a twist into any formal or informal ensemble. Be confident in glasses that really fit.”
A key influence for the coloration came after reading a quote from Mr. Ottavio Missoni, “To create a chromatic harmony by adding a third color to two clashing ones.” His words set in motion an explosion of wildly vivid hues that battle primary colors and forever classic earth tone colorations. The graphic patterns, composed on the front and temple tip areas, are reminiscent of a magnified view through a kaleidoscope. Christian started by cutting up his favorite aviator and used the pieces on other fronts and temples, spliced together. This unique technique — hereto unseen — was then replicated in these essential shapes. While the manufacturing process of this luxury eyewear is long and extremely meticulous, the end result is a seamlessly “cut and paste”. A creative and practical identity is the motto “All are handmade acetate in Italy with love,” and in their beautiful Italian Dolomites highest altitude factory at 4800 feet.
Celebrate the next decade of Christian Roth designs with a pick from their new collection. I know moving forward, I will look at “sunnies” with the utmost respect and appreciation, after learning of the impact and hard work that Eric Domège and Christian Roth have put into their designs. It’s assured that whatever they do next will be iconic with a classic modern twist, that we’ll have us all feeling like wearing our sunglasses by day and at night. To learn more about Christian Roth, go to www.christian-roth.com or #easytofindyourglasses.
Christian Roth Sunglasses – 2015 Collection
Pop Power 2 – in brown marble with burned orange and red polka dots.
Pop Power 2 – featuring circles graphically composed on the front and temple tips. This frame is reminiscent of a magnified view through a kaleidoscope.
Be the Star of your own adventure. Don’t be afraid to be the hero — after all, fashion eyewear glory never goes to the timid. A hyper-glamorous shape with clean lines and contrast details add a graphic sophistication. Sexy out-sized full brown marble Cat-Eye with burned orange and red polka dot details. Connect the dots! Superb craftsmanship features the unexpected and mismatched coloration details.
Fly Girl – in tortoise with neon yellow inserts, pink and neon yellow mismatched polka dots.
Fly Girl – in crystal clear with black and beige inserts and mismatched polka dots.
Fly Girl – This frame exudes a spring awakening with a fun use of colors, gentle constructions, architectural shapes and inventive combinations for a chic contrast.
The object of affection for the 2015 season has just arrived. A sophisticated and sexy cat-eye shape is musing around in lasting and effortless elegance. It is about the charm of the rare and unique. Superb craftsmanship features the unexpected and mismatched coloration details on the temple ends.
Opposites Attract – in rose pearls with havana and neon orange mismatched inserts.
Parisian elegance meets Miami’s tropical glamour.
The graphic and sexy look of ‘Opposites Attract’ has all the energy of street life with a hint of drama and living large attitude. Superb craftsmanship features the unexpected and mismatched coloration details on the temple ends.
Christian Roth Optical – 2015 – Eric’s Own – in tortoise with tangerine temples
Sleek and playful rectangular tortoise front paired with tangerine temples, and fluo green & fluo yellow details.
Eric – only very recently – came to a time in his life when wearing glasses became a necessity. He designed these spectacles for himself and named them Eric’s Own.
Power Plug – In sky white
Featuring new design techniques for a seamless look and feel, (available in high gloss black, sky white, or classic tortoiseshell) are accented by gold titanium temples along with a jewel like enamel placement on the temple tips in various shades of bright orange.
Korean artist, JunChang Park, designed a whimsical geometric pattern featured on the enamel placement as an ode to the Christian Roth brand. Handmade acetate with titanium temples in Japan.