Johnny Marr has a new credit to his name: sunglass designer. The former Smiths guitarist has partnered with Ray-Ban to create pair of blue-tinted Ray-Ban Signets. "How many people get to design their own sunglasses, you know what I mean?" Marr tells Rolling Stone. "I got to take my pick. I didn’t really have it as an ambition – it’s something that just came along."
Though he's never designed before, Ray-Ban trusted Marr to be the first musician to create a compelling new version of their classic shades. The sunglass brand says Marr chose the Signets for their iconic and rock & roll style, and for their capacity to be reinvented as something "new and different." Choosing unusual metals and colors for his eyewear, Marr officially marked his stamp on the design with a scrawled "Johnny" signature on their temple.
Marr was also able to exercise his musical chops for Ray-Ban: as part of the brand's new "Raw Sounds" initiative, he was given the chance to challenge young acts (Caliornian lo-fi kids Best Coast, dream poppers Au Revoir Simone, and U.K. indie star Tom Vek and Nashville rockers Mona, all of whom performed with Marr and his band the Healers at last Thursday's launch party) to write songs specifically for this live collaborative endeavor. Based on Eno and Schmidt's Oblique Strategies, a flashcard system developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt to combat creator's block, the challenge involved providing five acts with five sources of inspiration to create five original new songs. Marr contributed original inspirational material – "I wrote a poem, made a little movie" – to fuel his protégés' creativity as well as a philosophy quote, a photograph, and a map of the Lower East Side neighborhood, where the Ray Ban performance was held. Of the overall experience, he enthused: "[This] was a chance to do some great creative stuff, and I get to play with my band so it’s all right!"