Sunglasses have long been viewed as a fashion aficionado’s first foray into the world of designer fashion. In a paradoxical catch-22 situation, this is a positive for designers hoping that the accessible price point will spur a loyal customer base for their larger collections, but has earnt the fashion accessory a reputation as simply a fashion touchpoint. Enter Swiss Eyewear brand Akoni Group.
Built upon the firm belief that eyewear should be a true luxury accessory, instead of simply just another fashion category, Akoni aims to set itself apart by a determined commitment to craftsmanship, expertise, and quality. It was their unwavering passion to produce eyewear that not only accurately reflected the DNA of brand as storied as Balmain, but their use of the highest quality ecofriendly materials and time-honored
techniques which no doubt drove Olivier Rousteing to create an eyewear line in partnership with them.
The ardor emanating from Akoni Group’s CEO and co-founder Rosario Toscano, is palpable when he speaks of how this line came into existence. His strong feelings about how truly harmful it can be for brands to have a production dynamic whereby one of their product lines – in this case sunglasses – are licensed to third parties who mass produce instead of giving the item the attention it deserves, are clear from the get-go. It forms the basis for his devotion to ensuring that the eyewear Akoni Group produces is truly reflective of the luxury expected from a famed fashion house such as Balmain. “Balmain knew that we possessed the unique ability to authentically translate and imbue fashion brand DNA into a genuine high-end collection comparable to the best on offer from the finest eyewear-only brands,” he explains passionately.
The diligent design process, saw a years’ worth of collaborative hard work between his team and Olivier’s. Both teams had a clear aligned vision to ensure that the eyewear was a coherent part of the house’s overall collection and reflective of each season’s signature Balmain looks. Using the Maison’s archival references, Rosario explains how the teams have created a line which “Reflects the strong, audacious and confident spirit of the Balmain army.”. The many gold touches recall Pierre Balmain’s signature golden medallions and gilded
buttons as well as the importance that the rich tone has in every one of the house’s runways. The intricate details and high level of craftsmanship echo that of Balmain’s famed ateliers.
A personal favorite of Rosario’s from the collection and that of celebrities the world over is the Wonder Boy frame – aptly named after the prize-winning film about the Olivier himself. Olivier had a simple ask: “Can we make a pair of sunglasses that all my celebrity friends will want to wear so they can be shielded behind the lenses?” and Akoni delivered.
So much so that Olivier himself wasn’t willing to wait for an official launch before integrating the piece into his personal wardrobe, often adding the final touch to his familiar uniform of DB blazer, jeans and sneakers. Akoni’s commitment to ensuring that each pair of these glasses were subject to rigorous quality control, exceptional design, engineering and perfect fit meant that each frame could only be produced in very limited quantities.
The first edition of the Wonder Boy design, consisted of only 500 units, worldwide, with each frame numbered and registered. After the unprecedented success of the first collection the teams have once again collaborated for the Spring 2021 runway. This time Olivier concentrated on the collection’s new Brigade-I and Brigade-II designs, “I love their slightly ’80s feel, which channels the pop vibe that has been such a big part of my recent collections. For the show, we polarized the lenses, giving them striking orange and pink tones. Those lenses complement the bright fluorescent tones of my Spring 2021 designs.”
The Balmain Eyewear collection is exclusively available in Magrabi stores across Dubai. Visit magrabi.com.