Maga - 8215
Sunglasses at Night
(Maga Design 8215 M)
On the cover of his seminal 1987 album, How Ya Like Me Now West Coast rapper Kool Moe Dee is captured rocking a pair of Porsche x Carrera aviator sunglasses – an eyewear style made famous by the Hip-Hop pioneer. The following decade, legendary New York rapper Notorious B.I.G was well known for his love of Versace’s Medusa sunglasses, while his rival Tupac advocated Jean Paul Gaultier’s experimental steampunk frames. In the twenty-first century, fashion-literate Hip Hop artists including A$AP Rocky and Big Pun can be seen in Gucci’s fluorescent ski goggles, while up-and-comers like Lil Uzi Vert express their understanding of Hip Hop’s style evolution via their rare vintage Cartier’s.
Sunglasses have been synonymous with Hip Hop culture since the moment that new and subversive sound broke out of South Bronx’s game-changing block parties in the late 1970s. From the outset, rappers have used eyewear to forge distinct identities, communicate status and express a deep knowledge of style. In the coming decades, European fashion houses and heritage eyewear designers would respond to Hip Hop’s influence in an active conversation that informed the look of their latest collections. As many rappers turned their hand to design, fashion houses launched collaborations with the scene’s biggest names – Pharrell Williams, for example, has designed frames for both Louis Vuitton and Chanel – understanding that affiliation with a seminal figure could make or break a brand’s legacy.
One of the first to react to the subculture emerging from New York City was the cult Italian eyewear brand, Maga Design. Founded in the early 1980s, the designer behind these futuristic collections was renowned for his innovative use of colour and materials. An early experimenter with bold, rectangular shapes, the brand’s eclectic styles played with structure and transformed technical details on the hinges and brow line into architectural design elements. It was a look that spoke to Hip Hop’s innovators, offering a futurist interpretation of the maximalist style aesthetic that defined the early movement. Since going out of production in the 1990s the brand has acquired cult status, its Italian Graffiti line becoming highly collectible for both vintage eyewear experts and aficionados of Hip Hop’s cultural history.
Made in Italy, Maga Design’s 8215 is a mint-condition vintage sunglass showcasing the old-school extravagance and bold structures of the coveted Italian Graffiti collection. The transparent acetate frame is an on-trend eyewear look for the 2020s, while the graduated, two-tone colourway blends dark caramel and warm honey tones for an evocative vintage feel. A chic and understated take on Maga Design’s signature look, the arched metal brow bar is standout feature that subtly references the designer’s trademark gold detailing and architectural structures. The small, rectangular frame is a distinctive variation on a classic shape, including the original, dusky pink sun lenses for a vibrant, playful look. As Hip Hop’s classic eyewear trends continue to inspire collectors and designers well into the twenty-first century, the cult popularity of the Italian Graffiti collection echoes the enduring love between the artists and their favourite frames.