Chrome Hearts - Jo Jo
Paint It, Black – Chrome Hearts and Collaborators
By the turn of the twenty-first century, fashion firebrand Chrome Hearts had evolved into an American institution, one defined by the rebel-edged attitude of old school L.A. Still meticulously handcrafting every new piece in their sprawling Hollywood factory, the elusive Richard Stark and his wife Laurie Lynn had built an empire founded on friendship, integrity and mutual respect. Having diversified into eyewear, furniture and a silver-studded profusion of goth-luxe lifestyle items, the Chrome Hearts brand was firmly established as an international juggernaut with flagship stores across the US, Europe and Asia. By limiting press and curating their own image through the eclectically produced Chrome Hearts magazine, the company that began life in an L.A. garage in 1988 had stayed true to its rock’n’roll roots.
In recognition of that infamous style DNA, in 2002 Stark was chosen by The Rolling Stones to design a range of luxury merchandise to mark the band’s 40th anniversary Forty Licks world tour. Working with The Stone’s iconic lips and tongue symbol, the Chrome Hearts team created a collection of next-level, gem-studded pieces, including a $40,000 diamond and gold belt buckle featuring the classic lips logo. Eighteen years later, the decadent designs which defined that first collection have become highly sought pieces of pop-cultural history as the Starks have gone on to work with a series of influential collaborators in the world of cutting-edge fashion. Having introduced Chrome Hearts to the Japanese market through her Aoyama store back in the nineties, Comme de Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo collaborated with Stark in 2007 on a collection of pendants and garments. Partnerships with Robert Mapplethorpe and Rick Owens followed, further cementing Chrome Hearts’ reputation as a forward-thinking design house with an impulse to innovative and build on their iconic heritage.
The Chrome Hearts Eyewear collection was by now established as one of the world’s most exclusive, favoured by unorthodox style icons as diverse as Elton John and Marylin Manson. Evoking the concept of eyewear as jewellery, each new collection was crafted with meticulous attention to detail and an eye on the latest innovations in optical technology. Luxurious textures and materials, including Brazilian Mahogany, gold-plate and titanium, were combined with Chrome Hearts trademark fine leather and silver embellishments to create distinctive frames with attitude.
Originating from an early twenty-first century collection, the Jo Jo sunglass is a mint-condition frame referencing Chrome Hearts’ genesis as a purveyor of opulent, custom-made biker gear. That vintage biker feel is created by the classic aviator shape, fine leather temples and the contrast of green tint sun lenses against a dark brown metal frame. Sterling silver studs on the end pieces and sculpted details on the temples depict fleur-de-lis motifs, a symbol synonymous with the brand’s signature embellishments. As Richard Stark told Hypebeast magazine in 2018, “If you have to tell somebody what you are – you aren’t.” By following that singular creative path with devil-may-care conviction for over thirty years, Chrome Hearts have defined their own narrative in a voice that resonates across the generations.