New perspective

Ray-Ban Reverse glasses defy convention with their inverted lenses, a statement that speaks to new collaborator Lenny Kravitz

Style 13 May 2024

The rock icon wears Lenny Kravitz x Ray-Ban Aviator Reverse in black with dark grey lenses

The rock icon wears Lenny Kravitz x Ray-Ban Aviator Reverse in black with dark grey lenses

There are few things you can wear that confer instant cool as readily as a pair of sunglasses. And there are few sunglasses that come with anything like the cool credentials of Ray-Bans.

Ray-Ban has been the choice of so many stars of film and music that it has a special place in the annals of popular culture. In particular, the Aviator, designed in 1937, and the Wayfarer, designed in 1952, lead the field. The former, as the name suggests, was originally created for American pilots and has been cemented in that association by being the eyewear worn by Tom Cruise in both 1986’s Top Gun and its 2022 sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.

Meanwhile, the Wayfarer holds a special place in the rock’n’roll wardrobe, having been adopted by such artists as Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Madonna, Alex Turner, Bruno Mars, Debbie Harry and Taylor Swift. Oh, and a bunch of well-known actors too – think James Dean, Robert Pattinson and, iconically, John Belushi in 1980’s The Blues Brothers.

Both models speak of an individual attitude and more than a touch of rebelliousness. And it is this trait that has prompted Ray-Ban, which has been making eyewear since 1937, to explore a novel way of disrupting the look of a pair of sunglasses for the modern age.

Enter the Ray-Ban Reverse collection, a selection of established styles from the firm, including the famous Aviator and Wayfarer, that have been reimagined and reengineered with concave, rather than convex lenses. It’s a bold move that challenges expectations in such a surprising way that you can be forgiven for instinctively thinking it can’t work. Yet weirdly, it does.

Kravitz in Wayfarer Reverse with black frames and light blue lenses
Kravitz in Wayfarer Reverse with black frames and light blue lenses

The new look was showcased at the Met Gala last year when British songwriter and rapper Labyrinth arrived in a red suit and shirt, black tie, leather gloves and a pair of black Ray-Ban Reverse sunglasses (the Ray-Ban Boyfriend Reverse, a variation on the classic Wayfarer). Anyone getting close enough to the musician would have seen that the lenses curved out, running along the cheekbone for comfort and presenting a completely new idea of how eyewear should fit and look.

And now, almost a year on, comes the first collaboration for Ray-Ban Reverse with none other than four-time Grammy Award-winner Lenny Kravitz. The musician and actor gave hint of what was to come when he appeared in a pair for his Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in March. Dressed all in black (a pinstripe suit with shiny black shirt), he sported a pair of gold-plated Ray-Ban Reverse Aviators with the distinctive inverted lenses, also in gold. The effect was one of subtle disconcertion, as if Salvador Dalí had melted an eyewear classic and handed it to the rock star en route to Hollywood Boulevard.

Kravitz is a smart choice as collaborator, as the Reverse lens project is all about bending the rules and playfully subverting convention. As a producer, writer and musician, Kravitz, a multi-instrumentalist, is known for having a similar approach, blending multiple genres such as rock, funk and soul, and often referencing the sounds of past eras, especially the ’60s and ’70s. Letting him interpret and modernise a retro style that employs new technology is a clever move.

For his part, he couldn’t be happier to have been asked: ‘As a lifelong fan of Ray-Ban, their timeless style has always resonated with me,’ he says. ‘The Ray-Ban Reverse collaboration is a dream come true, allowing me to merge my love for music and fashion with such an iconic brand. It’s about breaking boundaries, embracing individuality and seeing the world from a new perspective through those innovative lenses.’

But the Ray-Ban Reverse project is not just about style. Quality eyewear has to perform, and though these lenses don’t conform to any established shape, there is no sacrifice of optical performance. ‘Thanks to a breakthrough digital process, the front and rear of the lens are calibrated in perfect synergy’ says the firm, ‘resulting in a lens that reaches the highest optical standards’. There is also a high-performance anti-glare treatment: ‘The pantoscopic lens is primed to reduce up to 70 per cent of the reflections at wavelengths to which the eye is most sensitive.’

Furthermore, the Reverse collection aims to be sensitive to sustainability issues by featuring bio-acetate frames (with 67 per cent bio-based carbon content) and bio-nylon lenses (with 41 per cent bio-based carbon content), and 100 per cent recycled packaging, including the polyester cleaning cloth.

As for the new collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, it comprises Aviator Reverse models in three frame colours – chrome, black and a gold-plated limited-edition. Etched into the left lens is Kravitz’s signature, which also appears on the packaging and cases.

The Ray-Ban Reverse collection also introduces coloured lenses that have a ‘washed’ effect to give them a vintage look. The process to create these involves careful sanding, fading the intensity of the hue. The wearer’s eyes are visible, but the protection the lenses provide is in no way diminished; the UV protection and anti-glare technology remain completely intact.

Special ‘washed’ lenses come in different colours, including burgundy in a gold Aviator frame, and blue in a black acetate Wayfarer frame. An exclusive Aviator version featuring a silver frame with ‘washed’ rose-gold lenses will be available only at Sunglass Hut.

The Lenny Kravitz x Ray-Ban Reverse Collection is available at certified Ray-Ban resellers, Ray-Ban stores and Exclusive Ray-Ban Reverse models are available at Sunglass Hut and GrandVision. Aviator styles in the Lenny Kravitz capsule collection, £204; limited-edition gold version, £475; Wayfarer Reverse and Aviator Reverse styles, £166