A little over a year ago, Corey Shapiro, the creative mastermind behind the Vintage Frames Company, turned up the heat on Montreal’s hair-styling scene with Notorious, his very well known, pimped up barber shop in St. Henri. Now, he’s taken a turn towards eyewear with L’Archive, Vintage Frames new flagship store. If his other ventures are any indication, this new store will be the talk of the town. For someone like Corey Shapiro, being the talk of the town is nothing new. For ten years he’s been famously designing eyewear for someone of the biggest names in music. His client list reads like Billboard’s top twenty with names like CeeLo Green, Lady Gaga, Pharell Williams, Rick Ross and many more seeking protection from the bright lights of fame. I met with Corey a few minutes before the launch party got underway, to get a few words on the opening of L’Archive. It was freezing outside and we got there a little earlier than expected. In fact,we showed up at almost exactly the same time. He was wearing his signature baseball hat, tilted to one side, just cool enough, with MTL emblazoned across the front (he had the hats specially made for the ten-year anniversary). Complementing the hat, he was wearing a matching two piece Bart Simpson printed sweat suit. It was brilliant and I remember thinking that it takes balls for a grown man to walk out the door wearing just that (not giving a f@#$), during winter in Montreal. If people are going to talk about what you’re wearing (which we all secretly hope for), we might as well give them something good to talk about. We got down to business once we were inside the store and started to thaw. L’Archive looks exactly what it sounds like, an old archive of books with a curious apothecary feel, but this is no ordinary archive. It’s cranked up a couple of notches with glass enclosed cases featuring glasses of every make and model, proudly displayed on shiny, gold coloured bars. The floor is pitch black with gold lines repeated once more. The storefront isn’t large but the windows create a bright fourth wall that allows in tons of light to pour in. When I asked him why he wanted to open L’Archive he told me that he wanted to bring “glasses to the masses”. Sure not everyone can’t afford the glasses that cover Lady Gaga’s eyes but having access to the feeling of being treated like a star during something as simple as picking out rad eyewear, is something we all should enjoy.
I next asked him what’s the best thing he’s every created. He smiled coyly and replied, “My son.” The proud papa beamed for a second before crossing his arms and shifting back to being cooler than cool. That’s one of my favourite things about Montrealer’s who remain true to the city, even after they make it big. We already have an f-you attitude when it comes to most things and success is just something else you get to share with the people closest to you.
Knowing that he had a gigantic party to prepare I kept my questioning short and sweet. The last question I asked him was about his favorite pair of glasses he’s designed and where they are now. He replied that he made a pair a few years ago that he loved but when Cee-Lo Green wanted to buy them he couldn’t say no. He told me, “Everything and every man has a price” and nothing could be further from the truth. There’s more to L’Archive than meets the eye. When the time came to have a drink we went to the back, book laden, wall and he pushed in on one of the bookcases revealing a swank back room. He looked at me and smiled, “we all want a bat-cave” he said as we stepped out of the real world and into a Neverland of 80’s inspired nostalgia.
Memorabilia like Vanilla Ice dolls, arcade machines, Nintendo controllers (the original, obviously) and even a live sized, model ET looking down over everything, greeted us as we entered. Plywood flooring and walls keep thing simple while a wall of stacked stereos from almost every époque since ghetto blasters were invented made for an awesome look. Drinks were served in specially made cups with the Vintage Frames logo that rested well on a lacquered table made from a stack of old porn videos. The back room has the makings of the perfect place to throw the best private parties that most of us will only hear rumblings about or not at all. I’m sure this place won’t just be famous for eyewear.
After a couple of drinks we took off but not before saying good-bye to our host. He was modest but confident and he knows that he’s struck gold already with L’Archive. Leaving the store I could help but wonder what other tricks he has up his Bart Simpson printed sleeve as he continues to take over St. Henri, one cool concept at a time.
Photo credit: David Major-Lapierre and Vintage Frames