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Luxury sunglasses: Chic, sharp, and in/on-yer-face

They can cost more than your airfare and – like a good reputation – be lost in a moment of carelessness.

They’ve been used through the decades to conjure mystery, allure and entire brand personalities - think Anna Wintour for ‘Vogue’, Clint Eastwood as ‘Dirty Harry’, US former first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and fashion designer Victoria Beckham.

Beckham says a picture of her in her sunglasses is an image many people would recognise, and that her shades say a lot about her. She also says:

“This person they make me out to be irritates the hell out of me too”

Make of that what you will. These days the former Spice Girl has her own range, obvs.

Let’s cast an eye over how high-end shades step out into the sunshine, and why we buy them…

They look good!

Yep, that’s probably the No 1 reason we pick ‘em up, put ‘em on and take ‘em home, though of course protecting our vision is the real aim, right? (Pic right by Gray Sorrenti for Paula's Ibiza)

From small slits reducing the amount of light coming into the eye to today’s polarisation and protection against ultra-violet (UV) rays, sunglasses have been around for centuries in one form or another to protect against the harmful effects of light.

This year sees a 20/20 blend of hyper-personalisation and outrageousness, with individual punters creating their own ‘look’ online and brands like Gucci (top pic) and Dolce & Gabbana (b/w above) living up to their own legends in a big way.

Another brand larging it is hot young French design house Jacquemus (below), which made a name for itself in tiny bags. Founder Simon Porte laid on a lavender-field backdrop for Jacquemus’ SS20 collection and its colour-in-motion is reflected in this year’s range of shades.

Get in the frame

We sometimes take best quality for granted when we’re shelling out several hundred quid for eyewear, but if you are looking for polarised lenses (not for everyone) to reduce glare/reflection, don’t forget to check whether or not your glam brand sunnies offer it.

A good tip for getting the luxury look with prescription or other adjustments is to ask at the opticians’ – many now offer to build your own lens requirements into luxury brand frames. Also handy for those of us (ahem) who snap up pair of fabulous but scratched-glass Pradas in a charity shop and get the frames refitted with up-to-the-moment lenses.

(Photo by Bruce Gilden for Gucci, designer Alessandro Michele)

If you’re after truly bespoke shades wrapped in traditional British craftsmanship, head for Cubitts of London. Founder Tom Broughton set up his spectacles and sunglasses shop after becoming disenchanted with the “clinical, plasticky environment” and bewildering procedures at regular opticians.

Designed to fit your exact requirements, colour choice, and aesthetic specifications, your sunglasses will be handmade with attention to the “framecraft, fitting and dispensing” that this country used to be really good at, says Broughton, at their flagship headquarters in a beautifully restored historic King’s Cross property.



Like to make a statement of your own? Well, personalisation is as big as this year’s shades – a trend Ray Ban got into back in 2016 with this cool ad for hot days.

If you’re not too fussed about creating a look, but want to be right up to the 2020 trends, check out LOEWE. Like Jacquemus, the Spanish luxury fashion house is doing a great line in acetate glasses this year, roping in a ‘Smiley’ theme and citrus-coloured ‘Balearics’ frames to get us in that holiday frame of mind:

US sunglasses maker William Painter offers titanium-tough love as well as good looks, with a bottle opener incorporated and plenty of humour thrown in by comedian James Schrader, as in this 2020 William Painter ad.

Remember, this season there is no such thing as too big or too ornate….



Posted by Tree Elven on 16/07/2020

Keywords: Luxury sunglasses, Gucci, Jacquemus, luxury eyewear, Dolce Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, LOEWE sunglasses, Gray Sorrenti, Alessandro Michele sunglasses

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