CAZAL - 243

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Fresh Looks - Cazal & the Rise of Hip Hop

(Cazal 243)

It’s the mid-seventies -- in the feverish heat of the Bronx’s sprawling block parties B-boys and B-girls dance to DJ Kool Herc’s pioneering breakbeats, emboldened by the energy and communal joy of the dancefloor. In West Germany, visionary designer Cari Zalloni is accelerating the evolution of eyewear from function to fashion with his ground-breaking collections of architectural and subversive frames. By the next decade, these distinct forces had collided in a new alliance of music and style that would define the cultural landscape with an influence reverberating beyond the twentieth century. 

In 1984, when Run-D.M.C released their eponymous debut album, the Hip Hop subculture that originated in New York City as a form of expression for black and Latino youth had broken into the mainstream as a raw and urgent musical powerhouse. Eschewing the Glam and Disco-wear sported by their MC predecessors Grandmaster Flash and The Sugarhill Gang, Run-D.M.C were directly influenced by the look on the street. Adidas Superstar sneakers, gold rope chains, Lee jeans and goose-down jackets; that seminal Hip-Hop look was seared into the consciousness of a worldwide audience by the multi-platinum success of Run-D.M.C’s 1986 album, Raising Hell. The iconic finishing touch to any outfit, made infamous by Run-D.M.C’s Darryl McDaniels, had to be a pair of oversized, bold and architecturally ingenious Cazal sunglasses. 

In Passau, Cari Zalloni had made the mission statement for his company a reality, insisting that, “Cazal eyewear must be recognisable from across the street”. To achieve that concise and influential objective, Zalloni engineered innovative design solutions for his frames, focusing on both their aesthetic and functional value. He added traverses, emphasised or broke up solid lines and highlighted technical details by transforming screws into ornamental elements. The resulting collections were stocked in optical stores across Europe and in America, where the oversized and extravagantly stylish frames serendipitously found a perfect fit with Hip Hop’s burgeoning style ethos. 

As the Cazal 607 – Darryl McDaniels’ sunglass of choice – became a cultural touchpoint in music and fashion history, Cari Zalloni continued to create instantly recognisable yet ever-evolving eyewear that informed the zeitgeist. Originating from these later collections, the Cazal 243 is an elegant and exquisitely preserved vintage rarity. Characterised by Cazal’s signature black and gold colour palette, the frame front is a structurally unusual gold-plated rim with black acetate overlaid detailing. With its dual bridge, intricate cut-away corners and embossed logo on the temples, this mint-condition, German made sunglass is a beautiful example of the Cazal design aesthetic. Featuring the original brown-gradient sun lenses, but fully adaptable for RX requirements, the Cazal 243 fuses timelessly luxurious craftmanship with the glamour and energy of a unique fashion moment.  With vintage looks now a key determiner of emerging trends, the style-savvy individuals rocking their Cazal’s today are making a contemporary style statement, one that acknowledges a significant turning point in music and cultural history.