INTERVIEW Charlotte Di Qual
We talked to Patrick Dempsey about his first eyewear line, co-designed with Porsche Design, that redefines luxury eyewear through a fusion of innovation and timeless style. In this exclusive interview, Dempsey gives STXDYOZ an inside look at the collection, inspired by his fervent passion for motorsports. Through our conversation, his vibrant and multifaceted persona shines through, as he shares his enthusiasm for actively collaborating alongside Porsche Design, his profound connection to racing, his recent portrayal of Piero Taruffi in Michael Mann’s “Ferrari”, his profound love for Italy, his philanthropic endeavors, and much more.

Charlotte Di Qual: Could you share the inspiration behind your collaboration with Porsche Design and how it aligns with your personal connection to the brand?

Patrick Dempsey: I’ve been wearing Porsche Design glasses for many years before becoming an ambassador, because I like their quality and history. Going back to the beginning of Porsche Design’s whole concept, it was the interchangeable lenses in those early frames that became so iconic. My involvement with the brand as a racer naturally led to this collaboration. And then I had the opportunity to create the glasses that I’m actually wearing now, inspired by the racing, which is all about weight, durability, and function. That’s where it started. It was really fun to do something different and to be able to work on the creative side with Porsche Design.

CDQ: You were introduced as a Porsche eyewear ambassador in 2021. Can you tell us about the evolution of your collaboration with the brand throughout the years?

PD: The first time I was just as an ambassador, modeling their sunglasses and optics. Over time it was like “Well, I really would love to be able to design as well”. And so, we co-designed the second collection, which was really exciting.

CDQ: As a motorsports enthusiast yourself, how has your involvement in racing specifically influenced the design philosophy of the eyewear collection?

PD: Tremendously. First of all, the quality of the lenses, the vision drive is really important. But also, when you’re wearing glasses with your helmet, you want something that’s lightweight and durable. So, that was the point of view in which we came into the design. We needed to make sure they have a good vision, that they are lightweight and cool looking. What I like about the gold lenses is that we’ve got the carbon fiber here (e.d. shows Glasses P’8754 in color gold from the Patrick Dempsey Ltd. Edition that he is wearing) and the titanium, then the gold and the yellow lenses that highlight it. And I can’t see anything, so it’s a nice little fashion statement. And even with the gray ones I experiment with the blue lenses as well.

CDQ: How was it like being actively involved, as you mentioned, in the design and creation process of the collection? Are there specific moments or aspects you enjoyed the most?

PD: I love it. It’s another creative process and I liked working on the structure. I love architecture and glasses are about that in many ways. They share many principles. And then there’s the collaboration aspect. The thing that I take away from Porsche and that they do so beautifully, is their understanding of how important teamwork is. Everybody has a role, a voice, and we all have the same goals and objectives, we have a timeline and certain things that we have to say, to focus on. It’s nice to be able to meet those challenges and to do something new. And then when you put something out there, it’s a reflection of yourself, and you like to hear the feedback. People say, “I like your glasses, where’d you get them, who made them?”. And you can say “Here you can have mine”, which is fun.

CDQ: What aspects of the collection are you most proud of? What sets it apart from other eyewear in the market?

PD: That they’re done well, lightweight, durable, and elegant. I’m very happy with all of those things. And how people are using them. That’s the most important thing.

CDQ: How would you describe your personal style?

PD: I try to just be classic and timeless. I like things that are handmade. I think you can feel that, in quality. And then also something that’s technically advanced. A lot of the clothing, when you go into the showroom, is really interesting. It’s interesting what they’re doing in the experimentation with that. It’s all of those things combined. Also, I want something that’s going to be in my closet for not just one season, but for many seasons, and that gets better with age. I look for an iconic design that’s timeless, but gets modern, too. It’s about valuing iconic designs with an enduring appeal.

CDQ: In terms of functionality, what are your go-tos in eyewear? And how did these preferences guide your input into the design of the collection?

PD: Well, at this point I have to use reading glasses. When you’re on set, if you have a pair of very heavy frames, it will leave indentations, making them impractical. You can’t walk around with a monocle or something like that. So, the practicality, the lightness of the frame, is crucial. And the size, as well. Getting the right size for your face is important.

CDQ: If you had to describe the collection in three words, what would they be?

PD: Lightweight. Modern. Classic.

CDQ: With acting, racing, philanthropy, and design collaborations, what keeps you excited about all your passions?

PD: New challenges. When you get that little feeling like “I don’t know if I can do this, I’m a little nervous”. That’s what you look for. And that’s harder to find. And then not being too comfortable. You got to be a little uncomfortable.

CDQ: What do you think connects your passions?

PD: I think there’s just something that I like innately from it. So, the connection with Porsche and Porsche Design, racing, motorsport, the lifestyle. I mean, they’re even doing skis now, and I love to ski. All of that sort of fits in and supports the lifestyle that I like to live.

CDQ: You wonderfully portrayed Piero Taruffi in Michael Mann’s recently released biopic “Ferrari”. What was that like considering your enthusiasm for racing?

PD: I loved it. It was amazing because I was in Italy. I was in Modena, at the end of summer and into fall. So, I had great food, great cycling, really beautiful people. Because it’s so agricultural, it reminded me a lot of the town I grew up in. And then I’m working on a Michael Mann movie. It took place in 1957, so it’s a period film, and to recreate all of that romance… It was just a special experience where I brought both passions together through cinema and car racing. And being allowed to do all the driving myself, to be with the stunt drivers, to be a part of that was very special.

CDQ: Speaking about Modena, you recently stated that youd like to move to Italy one day, right? What particular aspects do you like about Italy?

PD: The people. I love the warmth, the food, the history. Certainly the land. The cities are nice up to a point. I like to be in the countryside. I think it’s just the diversity of the landscape from the north to the central part and then the South. I need to explore the South a little bit more. I’m very comfortable in the North, as I like the mountains, and all of that. I’ve always felt at home there and have been embraced and it feels comfortable. I spend a lot of time in Italy and in Europe. And I’d like to have a foundation over there at some point, or a home.

CDQ: All-time favorite director?

PD: The first one I was really aware of was David Lean, I think. I lived in a rural area. You didn’t get a chance to go to the cinema very much. And I remember right before a holiday break in the cafeteria, they showed “Great Expectations”. And I remember that story so well that it just transported from where I was in my small town in Maine to going through that experience. And I think that was a profound thing. I’ve always loved David Lean’s movies. And then working with Michael Mann was a dream come true. He’s a real genius when it comes to his research and his passion for detail, his understanding visually as well as emotionally, and the editing. I learned a lot there.

CDQ: Favorite movie?

PD: I like “Round Midnight”. That’s probably my favorite movie.

CDQ: Favorite racer?

That’s a really hard one. It was great to play Taruffi because he was an extraordinary driver and he survived. Schumacher of course… Each generation has a driver that I personally like, so it’s hard to pick anyone.

CDQ: What’s a piece of advice you’ve received that has stayed with you throughout your career?

PD: Never forget where you come from.

CDQ: Can you give us a glimpse into your current projects, or anything on the horizon that has you excited?

PD: I think the thing that I’m the most passionate about is really the work that we’re doing at the Dempsey Center, where we help people who’ve been impacted by cancer. We don’t treat disease. We treat the person holistically with wraparound care – the children, whoever is being impacted, through nutrition, through counseling, through yoga, mindfulness, wigs, you name it. Whatever that person needs, we try to support them. And to me, this has been the greatest thing that’s come out of any kind of things. To be able to do something like that has a strong, strong positive impact. And we do a lot of this work in Maine, the town I grew up in and now we’re also servicing other countries as well as other states. That’s what I’m focusing on. And then reading a lot, trying to find the next project, something that I want to feel passionate about and have to go do.