Maga Design

Maga - 8227

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Italo Disco

(Maga Design 8227 T)

A new and space-age sound resounded in the mirrored and smoke-fogged nightclubs of Milan and Verona in the early 1980s. Synth heavy, melancholic and heavily accented – Italo disco was otherworldly, electronic pop with a distinctly European sensibility. In the same era, Maga Design were creating eclectic Italian eyewear for club kids with avant-garde structures and a boldly metallic colour palette. In the twenty-first century, these eighties Italian exports have become cult favourites, coveted by collectors and retro-futurist enthusiasts all over the world. 

Evolving from classic disco and influenced by the great Italian producer Giorgio Moroder, Italo disco used early drum machines, vocoders and overdubs to create experimental electronica for the dancefloor. As the popularity of American disco waned and devolved into niche subgenres like San Francisco’s hi-NRG, Italian producers began to create their own homegrown tracks in the hope of scoring the next club hit. Studios in the Italian cities became sound factories, churning out music for labels like Milan’s infamous Discomagic Records, which released more than thirty singles in 1983 alone. The genre’s strange melodies and wistfully mechanical vocals told classically romantic love stories or reflected on robotics and extra-terrestrial themes, with tracks like Charlie’s Spacer Woman addressing all three concerns in an ode to space-age romance. In 1983, German record label ZYX gave a name to the genre and seared the sound into Europe’s cultural consciousness when they released the first in a series of compilations entitled, The Best of Italo Disco. While the style remained strictly underground, its influence can be heard in the music of electro-pop pioneers, The Pet Shop Boys and New Order. 

Another Italian innovator with a futurist outlook was the designer behind cutting-edge eyewear brand, Maga Design. Reacting to the extravagant eyewear trends emerging from New York City’s Hip-Hop scene, Maga Design created frames to be seen in – on the dancefloor as well as on the beach. The highly collectible Italian Graffiti collection combined striking rectangular shapes with charismatic colourways, matching smoky lenses with metallic details and glittering marbled finishes. Since going out of production in the 90s, Maga Design’s classic sunglasses have acquired cult status. While collectors of Italo disco will today pay many hundreds of pounds for rare 12-inch records from the genre’s heyday of 1983-4, collectors of vintage eyewear will scour collections from the same era in search of the perfect frames. 

A vintage rarity, the clubmaster style sunglass from Maga Design’s Italian Graffiti Line is a beautifully preserved example of the designer’s futuristic aesthetic. The oversized, geometric frame channels Hip Hop’s early fashion icons, combining a bold acetate brow line with a sleek metal rim. The frame’s architectural feel is informed by innovative 3D design elements, from the metal brow bar to the sculpted metal bridge that draws the focus of the frame front. Shimmering tortoiseshell acetate sets the tone for a rich colourway fusing deep browns and honeyed caramels with the brand’s signature gold detailing. Including the original, smoky sun lenses, this disco-ready frame works for both men and women, injecting a dose of 80s attitude into any twenty-first century wardrobe.