Singer-songwriter Frank Ocean may be a master of keeping a low profile, but when he does things, he definitely doesn’t disappoint.
After an almost five-year hiatus since his last album, Blonde, he announced last week the launch of an “independent American luxury company” called Homer.
Four days after the surprise news, he staged a huge event in New York to show off the goods from the brand, handing out a 160-page catalogue so beautifully put together it is now selling on eBay for upwards of $1,000.
A a day later, he threw open the doors to his own brick-and-mortar store in the Bowery, New York. A visit to the new website gives nothing but the address of the store, while the new Instagram account has 152,000 followers, despite not a single post.
What is Homer selling?
The jewellery is bold, chunky and high end, made from what the catalogue lists as "18K gold, recycled sterling silver and hand-painted enamel," with some arriving dusted with lab-grown diamonds from “Homer’s state-of-the-art lab in America".
Clearly aimed at the upper end of the market, rings, buckles and pendants start at $400 a pop, rising steadily through four and five figures to a cool $1.8 million for the diamond-heavy Sphere Legs High Jewellery Necklace.
The silk scarves are brightly coloured, carrying the same motif as much of the jewellery, and go for $1,000 each, while the technical anoraks and bags are made in collaboration with none other than Prada. Given that the Italian house is very selective about who and what it lends its name to, this can be taken as a major seal of approval for Homer and Ocean.
At the launch, Ocean outlined his vision for the brand, explaining the high prices. "I didn’t want our work to be any less expensive than Cartier."
With a long-term strategy in mind, Ocean explained to the Financial Times why he chose to name his company after the Ancient Greek poet who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey.
“Homer is considered the father of history and history is meant to endure – the same as diamonds and gold – and I know Homer used papyrus, but I've always liked the idea of carving history into stone."