Jacques Marie Mage: Wearable Art

The Complete Story of Jacques Marie Mage

The story of the Jacques Marie Mage brand can be summed up in one word: Inspiration. The brand’s founder and namesake, Jerome Jacques Marie Mage, finds inspiration everywhere he looks. And this he translates into eyewear designs that are more art than accessory.

Eyewear As Art

The cornerstone of the JMM mission is to create unique, high quality eyewear that is as beautiful–or at least as compelling–as it is functional. The guiding mission behind every JMM design is to produce not the product but a design piece.

JMM designs are meant to be handled. Mage wants you to stare. To examine. To contemplate. Consider, for example, the intricate colors, minute details, and geometric lines of the Aspen.

jacques marie mage aspen sunglasses

Meaning very much lies in the eye of the beholder, and what you see when you look at the Aspen frame will tell you as much about yourself as it does about the shades. You might see the grill of a vintage car. You might be reminded of a retro TV era were big frames and slick mustache ruled our world.

For JMM, the significance lies not in finding the right answers but in asking the right question. JMM uses his designs to inspire audiences to speculate on the big questions. Who are we? What is it that makes a human? And what is the place of the human in the world? In history?

These are questions that only true works of art can inspire and they’re the questions that JMM designs are intended for.

A Universe of Influence

Mage is driven to create design pieces that inspire curiosity and compel thought. And much of that impulse comes from Mage’s own unique perspective on the world, on society, and on history.

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Mage’s personal tastes are as eclectic as his designs. Step into Mage’s first and only dedicated JMM store, located in Venice, California, and you will find a heterogenous blend of influences, from the indigenous cultures of the American West to the sumptuous ornamentation of the French First Empire. 

In Mage’s flagship store, you’ll find handcrafted, polished wood tables made in Normandy and resting on top of antique Navajo rugs. You’ll find walls hung with decorative cowhides lined with shelves filled with vintage books.

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What unites this hodgepodge of seemingly incompatible influences is craftsmanship. Mage is all about the work, about the enormous labor that goes into a work well-crafted. He is the ultimate hands-on designer and he respects only those artisans who are willing to get their hands dirty as well. 

And so he celebrates the beauty of the effort that has gone into tanning a pelt and transforming it into art. He values not only the mental work of putting words on a page but also the manual work of binding those pages, of building a beautiful book for a random assortment of papers.

The same passionate intensity that inspired the Navajo rug maker to weave colorful threads into a masterpiece can be seen in the fine detail of The Burn. With its mixed metal frame, tinted lenses, octagonal shape, and integrated nose bridge, the Burn is a feat of achievement not just in the creation but in the conception. This is a design that accepts no shortcuts, a mental and manual effort for which there is no boilerplate.

jacques marie mage wearable art

Unique Designs, Expert Craftsmanship  

Mage never approaches his work as a business effort or a manufacturing problem. For Mage, eyewear is an intellectual and artistic endeavor. It’s for this reason that Mage strongly rejects that fast-fashion movement that has dominated the industry in recent years. 

Mage is old school in every sense of the word. His design studios and manufacturing facilities use machines dating back to the 1940s and 1950s–that is, when machines are used at all. 

What Mage seems to desire most for his designs is the human touch, which is why his sunglasses and specs are created by hand in small batches by master artisans based in Japan and Italy. These are craftsmen who have spent years, even decades, honing their craft. Often, it is a craft they learned at the knees of their fathers and grandmothers, who likely learned the very same way.

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A single pair of JMM sunglasses or specs is the end result of a 300-step process and the efforts of more than 100 skilled artisans. And it is this laborious and intensely hands-on process that gives JMM eyewear its sense of heft and humanity, of having memory and community. As it passes from one creator’s hands to another’s, that human connectedness is precisely what it gains. 

It’s also what sets JMM eyewear apart from mass-produced products, no matter how elite its label.

From France to Japan to the US–and Back

Mage is in the truest sense a citizen of the world. Born in France, Mage lives and works principally in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Los Angeles, California. But his studios can be found across Europe and East Asia, from the ateliers of Italy to the workshops of Sabae, Japan, the birthplace of modern eyewear. 

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That makes JMM a brand that transcends borders–both of time and of geography. And that seems to be just fine to Mage, who respects no boundaries, limits, or rules when he finds that which is beautiful, meaningful, or important. 

And so you will find designs named for and inspired by the iconoclastic French poet, Apollinaire, alongside shades commemorating the King of Hollywood or tipping a hat to the Savoy race cars of the 1960s.  

Nothing Human

The Roman playwright, Terence, once famously said, “Nothing human is alien to me.” And if Jacques Marie Mage can be said to have a guiding creed, this perhaps is it. For all its innovation and eclecticism, JMM is, above all, a profoundly human brand, encompassing, celebrating, and quwaliting all it means to be a real person on this planet.

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It is a brand drinking long and deeply from human experience. It is a brand that encapsulates human hope and memory, thought and feeling, into designs that aren’t fashion accessories but are wearable art.

If you would like to claim a unique JMM design for yourself, reach out to the expert team of stylists at twelvesixtynine today. 

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