What makes an icon? Is it someone universally admired? Or someone with qualities that we’d all aspire for? In the case of Kendall Roy—the expectant heir to a media fortune in Succession—played expertly by Jeremy Strong, we’re not quite sure. Over the last four seasons of the mega-hit US drama, he’s definitely attained icon status, but when you dissect his character and his less-than-admirable qualities, he’s not exactly the kind of person you’d hope to emulate.
Maybe it’s something to do with those sunglasses? In the same way we were happy to overlook Don Draper’s endless imperfections because he wore sharp suits—Roy’s saving grace might be his style, and perhaps it’s his wardrobe that is the real icon? But whilst the styling in classic shows like Mad Men, Twin Peaks or The Sopranos worked in big and blatant brush strokes, the style of Succession—and Kendall Roy—isn’t quite as easy to pinpoint—with the muted luxury garb worn on screen a fair bit more subtle than the plaid hunting jackets of the Pacific Northwest or the gaudy spread-collar shirts of the New Jersey mobster scene.
'Considering his love of the finer things in life, it’s probably not much of a surprise that Kendall Roy is particularly fond of Jacques Marie Mage shades.'
Kendall Roy in his favoured JMM 'Molinos'
It might be understated, but there’s no denying that Kendall Roy has style—especially when compared with his brother Roman’s unironed button-downs, or his cousin Greg’s ill-fitting attempts at ‘dressing smart’—and his cashmere Loro Piana overcoats and suede Tom Ford bomber jackets stand out by way of not standing out, sort of like how an immaculate champagne-hued Mercedes W201 will always look better than a gold-plated G-Wagon with chrome spinners and lime green neons.
The numerous articles online on how to ‘dress like you’re in Succession’ or ‘channel your inner Kendall Roy’ show that we’re not the only ones to think this, but although the internet seems to have gone haywire over Kendall’s love of logo-free garb, the idea of so-called ‘stealth wealth’ or ‘quiet luxury’ is nothing new. Just look at the ultra-minimal grey overcoats and beige turtle-necks in Woody Allen’s 1978 drama Interiors (another document of ultra-rich siblings in turmoil), or even the sloane ranger country wear of Richard E. Grant in How to Get Ahead in Advertising. What’s that phrase? Money talks, wealth whispers.
'...the erratic, power-hungry wannabe heir to Waystar Royco is seldom without a pair JMMs on his face'
But anyway, let’s get to those glasses. Considering his love of the finer things in life, it’s probably not much of a surprise that Kendall Roy is particularly fond of Jacques Marie Mage shades. Highly limited… handmade in Japan… no logos save for those signature arrowhead pins… JMM’s frames are true quiet luxury, every bit as classy and understated as a cashmere baseball cap or a pair of John Lobb sneakers.
Whether he’s moping over breakfast or hiding his tears at his father’s funeral, the erratic, power-hungry wannabe heir to Waystar Royco is seldom without a pair JMMs on his face—and throughout the show he displays quite the collection—from the Italian-inspired Molino frames to the angular Brion aviators, along with Zepherin and Jax frames.
'Stealth Wealth' in full effect
If that wasn’t enough, things went even swankier for the fourth and final season after actor Jeremy Strong, who had became a firm fan of the brand after wearing their shades on set, reached out to JMM founder Jerome Mage with the idea of creating some bespoke shades for his character to wear.
The resulting frames are the super-rare ‘Ripley for KLR’ frames, a custom-made pair of sunglasses taking influence from classic ‘60s style—combining a particularly classy brown and 18K gold colourway with long-discontinued JMM shape, with the finishing touch of the initials KLR engraved inside. Originally there were just two pairs in existence—the one’s Kendall wears on screen, and the ones Jeremy wears in real life—but a few months back a limited run of 100 pairs were released.
Strong in the 'Ripley for KLR’ Jacques Marie Mage frames
The shades sold out almost instantly, and although sell-out collaborations alone aren’t really enough to elevate someone to icon status, the fact that people wanted a slice of patented Kendall Roy eyewear proves just how popular this decidedly less-than-perfect character has become. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what makes him an icon. Just like Don Draper, Travis Bickle and Michael Douglas as he traipses across LA in Falling Down, maybe he’s iconic not because he’s some impeccable example of humanity we should all aspire to be, but because he isn’t. After all, nobody’s perfect, even if their sunglasses are.