by Emily Baxter-Priest
  • 4 minute read
  • April 30, 2024
Jérôme Aupin: The Dubai-based artisan creating handmade eyewear in the form of wearable art

“I design jewellery glasses for $100,000,” says Jérôme Aupin, a Dubai-based maître artisan in the optical industry, whose vision is to “redefine elegance in the realm of eyewear”. 

With a fierce eye for detail and well-honed design techniques, every pair of glasses – both prescription and sunglasses – is imagined and designed by Jérôme. Using materials like acetate, precious metals and buffalo horn, each piece is 100% sur mesure and worthy of the higher price tag. 

Years spent working in high-end eyewear boutiques in Paris fuelled his desire to focus on one-of-a-kind eyewear, with each piece designed according to clients’ needs, preferences and face morphology. Learning the basics from watching videos, Jérôme honed his skills in the workshop of high jewellery designer Stephane Bellenfant and under the tutelage of eyewear connoisseur Alain Clerc. 

Pyrite sunglasses by Jérôme Aupin. Image: Supplied

In 2017, he debuted his ultra-bespoke eyewear brand, Jaupin. “My desire was to offer a new service in the eyewear market, meet clients and be the best eyewear designer,” he says.

While a website and word-of-mouth kick-started the business, a move to Dubai cemented his first brick-and-mortar boutique, with Jaupin opening in DIFC’s Gate Avenue in 2021. “It happened very quickly,” Jérôme says. 

“I met two investors. One said yes straight away, and I opened my store six months later,” he adds. “It happened fast, but that’s what I love about Dubai.”

Designed by Jérôme, the boutique is minimalist yet stylish. On display are a few select ready-to-wear eyewear pieces, from vintage to futuristic designs, including one pair that fetches Dhs294,000. But in the back is where the magic happens – a meeting with the eyewear artiste. 

The process usually takes two weeks, from initial consultation to delivery. At the first appointment, face measurements are taken and design details discussed. “The glasses should express you personally, and it depends on which style you want today,” he explains. “Maybe today you are wearing a suit and tomorrow  a jogger – they’re not the same style to me.” 

Jérôme Aupin in his workshop. Image: Supplied

Materials are also discussed, but when it comes to the overall design, clients entrust that completely to Jérôme. “It’s very rare that someone will tell me exactly what they want,” says the designer. “Sometimes, people want a replica of a design, but most of the time, they come to me for advice.”

Jérôme then gets to work sketching the front of the frames – a flat frame to highlight the design work or 3D mapping for a more precise example. The second meeting is to ‘validate’ the frame’s fitting – the position on the nose – and to deep-dive into details. “The materials, the colours, the volumes… Do you want to add some metal, your own personalised logo, your initials inside? Anything, everything. And then we start production.” 

The third meeting is for the delivery and tiny adjustments. From start to finish, it’s usually a two-hour, three-meeting process – or four, Jérôme laughs. “Because they always come back to re-order! Clients say, ‘Jérôme, I only have compliments; I want to do others now.’ I’m, like, ‘Okay, perfect!’”

Wearable works of art, prices for the handmade frames start at around Dhs4,600 for acetate, Dhs7,000 for buffalo horn and Dhs12,000 for precious metals. 

UAE sunglasses by Jérôme Aupin. Image: Supplied

And then comes the customisation. The more detail you have, the more interesting and unique the glasses. “I love a challenge,” he says. “If you give me a material that you want to try, I love that.” There are some limitations for full framework – wood is less easy to work with and absorbs too much moisture – but otherwise most materials are thrown into the mix: leather, gems, fabrics.

Clients trust Jérôme and often end up as friends – many are invited ‘backstage’ to see the production process. Orders come in from all over, including Dubai, Kuwait, and Saudi, while his glasses have framed the faces of celebrity clients, such as Mohammed Ramadan, Balqees Fathi and J Balvin.

In fact, so high is demand this year that Jérôme now produces one pair a day. He also has clients who see his glasses as ‘investments’ rather than something to be worn – he mentions one client who has 20 pairs. “It’s crazy!” he smiles. 

Future plans include a completely new brand and label under ‘J’, and a focus on his own designs. “My clients are my priority, but I miss creating something for myself,” he says. “Each will be numbered and microchipped for copyrighting, but also so that people understand that they are collecting a piece of art.” 

Jérôme also hopes to build a platform that allows him to explore design collaborations with other brands – even non-eyewear – and a new boutique is in the pipeline, too, which will be home to a very exclusive collection of ‘legendary’ masterpieces. 

“Just five pieces of each,” he says, “I want to have masterpieces that will build the name of Jaupin and the brand’s reputation,” he explains. “There needs to be a story behind it. Like with Jacob & Co.’s watches. When I see a Jacob & Co. [watch], I immediately see Jacob’s face. And the story behind the high jewellery and technicity. That’s what I’m building. A DNA.”

Visit and follow @jaupin on  Instagram.

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