Yoan Dahan was born and raised in the city’s Le Marais district. A true Parisian, the 28 year old has been a collector of European vintage sunglasses for the past 3 years and is now launching his own line of eyewear, Rayon Special (Instagram @rayonspecial). We caught up with Yoan to speak to him about his background and upcoming projects.
What made you decide to start collecting vintage sunglasses?
First of all, I would like to thank the 1LDK team for giving me the opportunity to show my work during Paris Fashion Week. My academic background is in design studies, initially in France before moving to England. I wouldn’t describe myself as a collector, I prefer the term of “selector”, to showcase my point of view. I am not collecting just because I love eyeglasses; I am collecting to show a direction and my interpretation of iconic styles from the past that are relevant in the present. I am very interested in how objects and products are made, their details, the level of complexity behind them to get to their essence, uncovering a kind of simplicity in their purest form. It is very surprising when you see just how sophisticated sunglasses are from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. For my new collection I am playing around with classic frames from this era. I hope that it will be ready from the beginning of next year.
How many frames do you have in your collection? Can you foresee yourself stopping collecting?
My collection (or selection) is around 100 pieces, however it takes time to finding, restoring and showcasing them to the world! I don’t know if I will stop one day, maybe I cease to find any frames I find interesting… let’s see.
Is there any specific era/type/origin of vintage eyeglasses you are into?
I personally prefer eyeglasses from the 1940’s and 1950’s. French and American styles are my favourite. During the 1950’s in the USA, a company called Shuron designed very elegant shapes reminiscent of Art Deco. The “Marilyn” on my website is a good example of this. I also like ones from Germany, especially those from Marwitz, very Mad Men, iconic and easy to wear.
Are there any memorable pairs you have in your collection?
Yes, 3 pairs come to mind. First is a French frame, the same model that Yves Saint Laurent wore at the beginning of his career. They’re a gold filled frame with brown acetate circles, very Sixties!
– Second is a frame that came from the USA. They’re for the kind of woman who drives a Cadillac Eldorado! Cat-like eyes with a very elegant acetate and a gold filled frame, a must!
– Finally I have a very classic and iconic model that comes from the 1930’s. A very simple, round double gold filled frame with a soft end arm to fit perfectly, very much the forefather to the style that John Lennon is synonymous with.
How do the materials and manufacturing techniques on vintage frames differ compared to contemporary acetate frames? Has much changed?
Well, when you look at vintage frames, it seems like every aspect of their design has been done to make them strong and resilient. You can feel this through their weight as well as the sensation when you close the arms. It’s very noticeable through the arms and holding the frames, they feel sturdier and much more solid. Today production has changed a lot, products have a very short life and you can see this when you examine a frame’s hinges or screws. No longer are the majority of eyeglasses a locally made, artisanal product, instead they are mass produced by machines in large scale factories.
The city of Sabae in Japan has been home to eyewear production for over 100 years, and has around 50 manufacturers based there. Is there anywhere in Europe similar?
In France we have the famous region of Morez located in the Jura. This is where the French savoir- faire for eyewear began, in 1796. Today, when you want to do a quality frame that is made in France, Morez is the place to go.