Larke Optics’ inaugural collection of spectacles is a thing of understated beauty. Consisting of seven unisex frames, including Gill, Hadley and Lowis (pictured, £275 each), all entirely handcrafted from rare Italian acetates, these are the kind of glasses to make you turn your back on contacts – or relocate immediately to a part of the world where the permanent wearing of sunglasses is de rigueur.
Handmaking frames is a highly labour-intensive process, especially when the shape is milled from a sheet of – in Larke Optics’ case – premium Italian acetate, before being mounted onto a jig to be routed. Unsurprisingly, it is a fast-dying art and the workshop where these frames are made is one of the last of its kind in the UK.
Larke Optics is a small, family-run company, and its policy of using end-of-line blocks of acetate wherever possible guarantees a level of exclusivity, even across its main-line collection. However, for customers prepared to wait between four and six weeks, Larke Optics also offers a bespoke service (from £300). You can’t design the shape of your frames, but you can specify your own colour, pattern, opacity, finish and, for sunglasses, lens colour. You can also personalise the frames with your name or initials.
“Some clients have very specific ideas,” says creative director Laura Nicholson. “Recently, for example, someone was determined to colour-match a section of a photograph they’d taken many years ago. Luckily, we have access to all the colours of the rainbow – and beyond.”