"Some years ago I was in Eritrea, Africa, wandering through my grandfather’s old warehouse of Italian imports, when I discovered a model of sunglasses from a time long forgotten. These beautiful designs immediately evoked the romanticism of an era long gone by. The merging of two worlds; the adventure of Africa and the glamour of the Riviera. I returned to the original manufacturers and created a line capturing this timeless elegance..."
Luca Gnecchi Ruscone
Luca Gnecchi Ruscone is the founder and CEO — in other words, the mastermind— behind L.G.R, the ‘Made in Italy’ brand that is turning heads among the most notorious A-listers and eyewear fans around the world.
Like its frames, L.G.R’s story is nothing short of special. Back in 2005, Luca visited one of his grandfather’s optical stores in Asmara, Eritrea, where he found an old pair of sunglasses that struck him for its elegant and timeless design, and brought them back home to Italy.
After tracking down the original manufacturers, Luca started off with a small production of the frames, all while being faithful to its authenticity and the traditional artisan methods of the past. Slowly, the frames became a hit in Europe, as an increasing number of luxury eyewear boutiques were beginning to take them on board.
That’s the story behind L.G.R’s foundation, but the reason behind its source of inspiration —the people, places and times of Africa— dates back to 1936, when Luca’s grandfather, Raffaelo Bini, was sent to Asmara, an Italian colony in Eritrea, to photograph the country’s war effort. Eritrea became his home for the following years, but in 1974 Bini was forced to move back to Italy. Bini passed on his love for Africa to Luca, and in 2007, L.G.R was born. (Fun fact: All glasses and sunglasses models are named after African cities and elements, such as Massawa, Siwa or Tangieri.)
The Italy of the 1950’s —during the time of the economic boom and the optimism of that era — is also a source of inspiration for the brand. Italy’s stunning riviera and glamour is incorporated in most designs, such as the popular Orchid. “I’m always inspired by the practical side of things. I’m motivated by how the pieces will be used and travel; exploration and adventure are my inspirational pillars. My goal is to create objects that make our wearers escape their everyday reality,” Luca told The Coveteur.
Blending together traditional and contemporary lines of craftsmanship, every frame is handmade by expert artisans to create the signature silky and smooth finish that makes an L.G.R piece. Created from cellulose acetate, steel and metal, each style is made making sure to preserve Italian values, but with a modern and fashionable twist. Every frame is designed to ensure resistance and longevity, while the lenses are made with a cutting edge technology that has managed to achieve the highest level of optical clarity in the world. They exclusively use mineral glass lenses—never plastic—since it doesn’t scratch.
After over a decade in the ever-evolving eyewear business, L.G.R have definitely built a place for themselves. Throughout the years, they have amassed an incredible brand loyalty around the world, with celebrities like Daniel Craig, Gigi Hadid, Lewis Hamilton, Marion Cotillard and Mario Testino sporting the designs. Their iconic specs have appeared in numerous films, including Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise. Let’s not forget about Prince William, who has been spotted rocking his pair of Suez sunglasses on many occasions, including the Wimbledon championships!
Adding to its very first L.G.R store in Milan, Italy, the brand has recently celebrated the opening of its second flagship shop — this time in Luca’s hometown, Rome. The design of both boutiques has been inspired by the store Raffaelo Bini used to own between the thirties and seventies, while L.G.R’s sources of inspiration, Africa and Italy, are perceivable in every detail. L.G.R remains highly exclusive in the UK, with only a handful of stores stocking them. Lucky for you, a carefully curated selection of models is available at The Eye Establishment.
Words by Valeria Martinez