Famously elusive and elusively famous, in many ways it should come as no surprise that Frank Ocean — seemingly out of nowhere — should appear with a new project to share. It is, after all, what the former Odd Future member does best.
In 2016, Ocean turned up and quietly built a staircase in order to fulfil his obligations to Def Jam records and then, the very next day, to much surprise and an equal amount of critical acclaim, released a new, full-length album on his own label.
But what, exactly, is Homer? In typical Ocean form, the name doesn't tell you all that much — other than, presumably, pointing to a penchant for Ancient Greek epic poetry.
Still, the interview and the brand’s debut catalogue — an aesthetic cousin of Ocean’s Boys Don’t Cry magazine from 2016 — do answer some of the more pressing questions.
Firstly, Ocean refers to Homer as an “American Luxury Brand.” Designed and based in New York, the “American” part certainly holds up to scrutiny. And, with a focus on high-end jewellery and printed silk scarves as the brand’s first offering, all of which are made in Italy, it's also fair to say that the luxury element is true to Ocean’s description.
The pieces themselves — a collection of bracelets, chains, earrings, and a selection of other jewellery that even caters to the often-overlooked tongue piercing — boast not only artisan credentials, but also noteworthy sustainability qualifications to match.
Materials include handcrafted 18K solid gold, hand-painted enamel, and recycled sterling silver. Perhaps most interesting of all, though, is the use of American lab-grown diamonds — a more ethical and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional mined stones.
In a crowded and exclusive market, this is how Frank Ocean wins.
Segueing seamlessly from that reference, you might be wondering where you’ll be able to pick up pieces from the first Homer collection. The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is not a shady little boutique helmed by an impossibly-betoothed gambler with an affinity for jewel-encrusted Furbies. It is, however, not exactly a million miles away.
Amping up the fledgling label’s exclusivity, Homer will only be available directly through the brand’s new boutique at 70-74 Bowery, New York City, due to open Monday August 9th. Much to the disappointment of fans — who will also most likely be equally disappointed by the as-yet-unrevealed price tag — this means that, while you can book appointments via the homer.com website, there's no hint of a web store to be found.
It should be obvious at this point, but — in case it isn't — Homer isn't a branch of Frank Ocean merch. It wasn't created with the people who buy Ocean’s records in mind. It is, nonetheless, an extension of the artist’s creative output: every detail, from the pieces themselves to the catalogue — a joint graphic and photographic effort from frequent collaborator Tyrone Lebon and Ocean himself respectively — has been thoughtfully considered and artfully crafted.
Because of this depth of thought and feeling — this prioritising of creative joy — Homer doesn't feel like the kind of stuffy, claustrophobic proposition that talk of a high-end, by-appointment jewellery store might at first conjure up.
Far from it, in fact: not only is the campaign imagery distinctly contemporary — owing more to PC Music and Vaporwave aesthetics than to classic luxury advertising — but the pieces themselves are joyfully imbued with colour and a tongue-in-cheek sensibility just light enough to keep the high-end happy.
And speaking of high-end, nestled nonchalantly among the pages of product photography and campaign imagery, the catalogue also contains something of a Faberge easter egg: a jacket, in soothing glacial green, otherwise unassuming — but completed with a familiar triangular insignia. Accompanied only by the words, “PRADA,” “homer,” and, “coming soon.” An early indication, perhaps — even before its official launch — that Homer has already been accepted by luxury’s legacy gatekeepers.
Whether the brand turns out to be a disruptor in that industry — or, over time, becomes one of its established names — it's too early to say. After August 9th, though, we might have some idea.