To get one thing out of the way first: yes, tortoiseshell was once made from real tortoises. And no, it is no longer made from real tortoises.
Our Sea Smoke Tortoise is a tale of convergent evolution. On the one hand, we’re always playing with new applications of tortoiseshell. It’s a classic for a reason: those painterly shades of amber, honey and brown enhance any eye color, just by proximity. It can be formal or bookish. It matches nothing and goes with everything.
On the other hand, our heads were in a summer mindset. We were collecting vintage surf magazines. Issues of Surfer from the 1960s were piled high on our desks. We flipped through the sunbleached pages, marking shade after shade of blue: San Onofre blue, Bali blue, Oahu blue.
We thought it might be nice to take our old friend, tortoiseshell, out for a dip in the sea.