There are two things you need to know about the French brand Vuarnet, renowned for its eyewear. Firstly: It’s pronounced Vu-ar-net. Secondly: It just announced it is hiring young Parisian designer Boramy Viguier as artistic director. This is interesting for quite a few reasons, but mainly because this is one of those unexpected pairings—huge understatement here—that on closer inspection warrants a resounding thumbs up.
I mean, consider this: Vuarnet has long been an icon of French piste glamour; if Alain Delon was a pair of aviator-style sunglasses designed to handle the gleam of a snowy mountaintop, he’d be Vuarnet. Viguier, meanwhile, has gained a following for his street-sportswear pieces, which he elevates with his fantastical/mythical leanings, part video game, part Knights Templar. Put Vuarnet and Viguier together and you get….Boramy ViguierPhoto: Thomas Lohr / Courtesy
Well, you can see from the teaser film yourself, with its James Bondian On Her Majesty’s Secret Service vibe—perhaps not surprising, given Vuarnet is involved in the new Bond, No Time To Die. For every ’60s-ism in the teaser, Viguier counters it with a minimalistic-monastic vibe which he uses for his graphic black technical outerwear and oversized shades. (A selection of his first work will go on sale today at the brand’s website and its New York store.)
“There’s such a degree of nostalgia [with Vuarnet]” says Viguier. “Everyone in France has a sentimental relationship [with it], from wearing its sunglasses on the ski slopes.” Yet it wasn’t looking to the past through rose-tinted glasses which drew him to signing onto the role some six months ago. It was the brand’s particular mix of futurism—founder Jean Vuarnet, an Olympic gold medalist skier, created the Avoriaz resort back in the day with a group of young architects—and long held principles of sustainability and prioritizing local production.
In terms of the former, Vuarnet’s lenses are an increasingly rare example of being mineral-based in their constitution, rather than using plastic; even the sand utilized to make the lenses is sourced in France. As to the latter, the Vuarnet headquarters are in Paris, while its factory is located in the nearby suburb of Meaux. All this sits well with Vigiuer, whose own label has valorized being as conscious as possible in terms of its footprint; once, he told me, the best way for him to work was to use fabrics he could find within walking distance of his studio. (Those jacquard knits in the film, for instance, were created from recycled cottons.)
Yet what’s also got him excited about this new role (which he will do as he continues with his own line) was the continuing to answer the yearning to do something which feels almost otherworldly for Vuarnet. The idea of the mysteries of nature, geographical topographies, the sense of elemental forces—all of these will factor into his vision for Vuarnet too. Check out the patch logo on the clothing in the film, with its tarot card style rendering of a mountain peak.
“I had this idea of something spiritual and mystical [for the brand] but I didn’t want to scare anyone,” he said, laughing. “But I do want to capture this idea of seeing mountains in a different way; taking almost a sacred and spiritual journey. It’s not like it’s a couture house,” he went on to say, “but Vuarnet has its own heritage, it just comes from the mountains—not ateliers.”