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The Shade of It All

The Shade of It All

FranÇois Dischinger

Grant Krajecki, designer and founder of the New York–based eyewear label Grey Ant, explains why sunglasses matter.

Photography by Francois Dischinger.

As Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour can attest, your face is never fully dressed without the perfect pair of shades. They can serve as a perfect hangover helper, or a mask of rock-star aloofness. More importantly, they're a coat of armor -- your eyes' first line of defense against harmful rays. "Sunglasses are considered a medical device by U.S. customs," says Grant Krajecki (above), designer and founder of the New York-based eyewear label Grey Ant.

Launched in L.A. in 1998, with an emphasis on quirky womenswear inspired by New Wave and offbeat pop culture, Grey Ant now focuses exclusively on specs. The philosophy behind the brand, Krajecki says, is extreme subtleties. "The human face," he explains, "is a much more concentrated area to focus on. It doesn't move like the body." Eyewear, for example, is more personal than a pair of pants.

Krajecki's first Grey Ant pair was the Status, an oversized 1950s style similar to Roy Orbison's signature lenses (it was introduced in 2007 and is still in the line). The elegant designs that followed -- like the rimless Kennedy and the sawed-off Wax -- were instant hits. But Krajecki's inventiveness has raised red flags for factories that produce his pieces. "Earlier designs I sent were regarded as mistakes and an attempt was made to 'fix' them," he says with a chuckle. Innovation is paying off. Last year, Krajecki's line was a top-10 finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and part of a reality series recently centered on the competition. All that exposure has raised Grey Ant's profile, and garnered it celebrity fans like Lady Gaga and Beyonce. In 2015, the brand will expand to include an optical line. It's been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Consider Grey Ants the perfect curtains.

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