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Mobolaji Dawodu knows his way around a killer pair of sunglasses. During his tenure as GQ‘s Fashion Director-at-Large, the Brooklyn-based stylist extraordinaire has been responsible for some of the most memorable looks in GQ history. Usher sashaying his way through Vegas. Bad Bunny lounging yacht-side in Miami. Robert Pattinson mid-metamorphosis in London. The one thing all those legendary cover shoots share in common? A scene-stealing cameo from a slick pair of shades, hand-picked by Dawodu himself.
So it makes perfect sense that he’d partner with the luxury eyewear experts at AHLEM on a collection of limited-edition sunnies, available right this very minute to the clothes-wearing public. It also makes sense that said sunglasses would come in two almost-translucent shades of mossy green and burnt orange, an intentional swerve away from the jet-black frames that’ve become industry standard. “It’s easy to wear black glasses, black frames,” Dawodu says, speaking by phone earlier this week. “I thought it’d be more interesting to have a bit of color in there.” Those gradient tinted lenses? They were a conscious decision, too, partly inspired by similar sunglasses his dad used to wear when Dawodu was a kid.
“When I started wearing glasses, I used to always have these Clark Kent-Superman moments, where I’d switch out my glasses,” he remembers. “Until one day I was riding my bike and I switched to my sunglasses and when I rode home at, like, two in the morning, I lost my actual clear glasses.” Dawodu realized he needed an in-between option, and tints split the difference with flair. He chalks their appeal up to aesthetics, sure, but it’s rooted in practicality, too: “I like to keep the light out.” (The squared-off cat-eye shape also takes inspiration from jazz greats like Miles Davis and Pharoah Sanders, two famously stylish guys Dawodu cites as major influences.)
Over the years, Dawodu’s approach to styling—a freeform explosion of colors, patterns, and textures—has become a trademark, guiding a new generation of GQ readers to their own style epiphanies in the process. “I am not the person who is going to give you a soliloquy about anything [related to] style,” he says. “For me, it’s actually a feeling.” The real process of zeroing in on your own sense of personal style, Dawodu says, starts by “getting to your comfort zone” and letting the vibes dictate where you head next.