It’s a perfect match: the rock star of the fashion world, Karl Lagerfeld, and optical’s own rock stars, eyewear designers Christian Roth and Eric Domege, collaborate on a collection of Karl Lagerfeld brand ophthalmic frames and sunglasses, currently being launched by Marchon Eyewear.

We considered it a good omen when Al Berg [president and CEO of Marchon] contacted us a year ago to design the new Lagerfeld line. We had actually worked on runway pieces with Karl in the ’80s,”  Domege notes. “We felt we were the right team to develop an eyewear line for Lagerfeld.”  Marchon and Lagerfeld are an excellent combination, Domege says, because they both put a great deal of emphasis on quality and refined detail.

The objective in creating the new line was to capture the spirit of Lagerfeld, while keeping in mind the collection had to be commercially viable with its own distinctive DNA. “We wanted to embody the eyewear with strong shapes and logos that reflected Lagerfeld. It’s a challenge not to be gimmicky when working with an iconic personality like Karl,” Domege explains. “But we needed to create something that is Karl Lagerfeld, not just something he is wearing at the moment.”

What Roth and Domege felt was important for the upcoming season was classic, vintage-inspired shapes such as the aviator. “But we did not want the collection to scream vintage,” Domege emphasizes. “Karl is all about modernity, quality and detail. We wanted to keep it that way and not resort to gimmicks.”

The eyewear team concentrated on handmade, customized acetates for the premiere collection because they wanted to focus on rich color. They are planning to do metal/acetate combination styles in the future and have a couple of strong pieces in the next collection that are injection molded. Signature Lagerfeld colors—black and white—run throughout the collection with occasional flashes of brighter colors. “We took our color direction from Karl’s current ready-to-wear collection,” notes Domege.

Another essential factor in creating the collection was the need to appeal to Lagerfeld’s wide-based consumer spectrum that ranges from hip young kids to mature men and women. “We also had to make the collection affordable to this same broad customer base,” says Domege. “Karl loves young people and has always had a huge following among the younger generation. He wants them to be able to buy his products. That’s part of the Karl Lagerfeld spirit. It is definitely a challenge to use the highest quality materials and great detail and still offer the styles at an affordable price.”

A great source of inspiration in creating the Lagerfeld collection, the eyewear designers say, was Lagerfeld himself. “Karl has a strong personality and such incredible vision. He’s very sharp and quick to express himself. We worked very closely with him,” says Domege.

“What we really consider a great compliment is we did not have to customize a style for Karl. He picked one from our
collection to wear [KL610S, a zyl aviator],” says Domege. That style is featured in his self portrait pictured above.

The first collection is just the beginning, Domege and Roth, emphasize, “It was, no doubt, the most challenging because we had to set the DNA for the line. We are already working on the next collection but now it has its own identity so it’s easier. It’s been a great pleasure to work with Marchon and we look forward to more of this excellent team work.”   

—Gloria Nicola