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Morgenthal Frederics Hands-On Approach

The Morgenthal Gert sunglasses is made from 12 layers of lightweight genuine buffalo horn dyed a rich beautiful blue.

Jeff Press, chief designer of Morgenthal Frederics, the luxury eyewear company known for its hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind frames in materials like horn and wood.

What's trending in eyewear right now?
Retro styling continues to drive the looks that are trending strongly this season.

Do you have an all-time favorite pair of sunglasses?
My all-time favorite sunglass is actually a Morgenthal frame from the late 80s long before I joined the company, the Bruno. It is an acetate frame with goggle side shields, and I am excited to say we are doing a collaboration with Mykita Mylon and bringing it back this Spring!

I also love many of the Yohji Yamamoto frames and Matsuda frames from the early 90s, those design teams were truly changing the game! Matsuda has re-invented itself and I am happy to see them back doing amazing things again!

Is there a frame that's most universally preferred?
Aviators are always in style, and taking a frame in classic shapes and detailing it beautifully continues to drive the style. Also, taking acetate styles with key hole bridge designs, and reworking them, keeps styles that worked in the 50s and 60s looking fresh and new.

How did you begin to incorporate rare materials into your frames?
We have always looked for ways to elevate the product, and the client experience, I began to really focus on buffalo horn, after I took over the Morgenthal Collection in 2006, and wanted to focus on a material that was both beautiful and extremely light and comfortable. Affluent clients, who can afford the very best deserve one of a kind looks, but also uncompromised comfort. The buffalo horn we use is amazing, because we laminate 12 or more levels to create colorations and comfort that is truly unparalleled, but also functional, because eyewear is the ultimate accessory that joins function and fashion.

If we consider sunglasses as an accessory used to complete an outfit, what would you recommend for a more dressed up look?
I absolutely consider them to be the ultimate accessory to complete an outfit, I would say it depends on which direction the overall outfit takes, but a classic gold aviator on a guy, or a sleek black horn style can work beautifully to keep it elegant but cool. A great glamour sunglass on a woman that fits the Jackie O mold, always dresses up a look.

How labor intensive are some of the styles?
Our horn frames take 12-16 weeks to create by hand, and since each piece is one of a kind, they are worked on by 8-10 artisans in Germany. Our titanium pieces get the same type of treatment in Japan. When you sell a product based on quality, styling and craftsmanship, you absolutely need to be equal to the task.

What is the most valuable pair of sunglasses you've designed?
We don’t really work in solid gold or with diamonds, as it isn’t our look, so working with horn, wood and this Spring, stone are really the areas where are frames get most valuable. We have done collaborations with Maybach that retail for $2,350, and customizations with Chrome Hearts at $2,995 using 24k Rose Gold and Albyno Madrone piano varnished temples, but our most expensive full horn pieces are pieces like the Rhapsody, and Gert at $2,100.

Do you recommend rotating between frames, or sticking to one style each season?
I think you need a wardrobe of eyewear, since different pieces work better with different looks. Maybe a whimsical colorful cat-eye is the style of the day, or a super cool aviator! Maybe it is something bohemian, like a super size round, the reality is, eyewear has never been better than this—everyone romanticizes about the past, but truly, the beautiful collections on the market today are too numerous to mention, the choices are too numerous to only have one! Maybe you want the cool of Chrome Hearts or Dita, or elegance of Cartier, perhaps they want the hipness of Mykita, or the amazing technology and comfort of Mylon, but the reality is, whatever they want, the work being done in eyewear at the top end has never been better. We like to feel that Morgenthal plays well in that category of true artisan eyewear.

Since you began with company about seven years ago, have you seen the demand for rare and more precious materials in eyewear increase?
I have actually been with Morgenthal for 16 years, but took over as lead designer sevenM years ago. I would say absolutely, the affluent client is looking for new ways to elevate their wardrobe, and transform their style. We used to sell horn, wood and gold as occasional pieces, today they sell every day, because while the market can get flooded with cheap imitations claiming to be first rate, in reality, the client who wants the best, knows the difference, and this has gotten clearer and clearer in recent years.


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