top of page

An artisanal conversation with Ludovic Elens - Founder and Craftsman of Lunetier Ludovic, Brussels

Dear readers, men’s accessories might seem insignificant, but it did make a difference when assembling with one’s outfit together, whether it’s an understated and classic timepiece or a pair of delicate cufflinks at the cuff of the shirt, in order to achieve a more thoughtful and impeccable look, men’s accessories and refined menswear are in fact inseparable.   Speaking of men’s accessories, I suddenly realized that I have never mention one item since I started my blog, which is eyewear!  While some of us might switch to contact lens to avoid any discomfort or unwanted burden on the face, some sees a pair of delicately made eye-glasses as a stylish fashion accessory, a little piece of fashion statement, to enhance one’s overall look along with one’s thoughtfully put-together outfit; today, we are heading to Brussels, Belgium, to have a pleasant talk with a Belgian bespoke eyewear craftsman there.  Mr. Ludovic Elens is the Founder and the Craftsman of his bespoke eyewear boutique, Lunetier Ludovic, located in the historic Sablon area in Brussels, Ludovic has been passionate about eyewear making since he was a young man, with his curiosity of different materials from acetate to rare horns that comes from sheep and deer, those materials might seem insignificant for ordinary people but in Ludovic’s eyes, he sees the artistic potential and beauty when it comes to creating an exceptional and luxurious eyewear for a discerning individuals, who are very particular to how an eyewear was made that fit to their facial appearance, even to their personal style.  But how exactly this unique craft works?  From how does a bespoke eyewear being made, and how does it affect our appearance?  And more specifically, how did the craftsman think about what a bespoke eyewear represents in the world of refined menswear?  Without further ado, let’s dive into the talk with Ludovic now!

My Modern Darcy : Hi Ludovic, thanks for being with us today!  As starter, can you tell us what makes you so interested with bespoke eyewear?  And what makes you to decide becoming a bespoke eyewear craftsman as your life career?

Ludovic Elens: It all began in 2014 when I was working as an optician in an optical shop; clients often came in requesting bespoke eyewear, primarily due to size issues such as needing larger frames, wider bridges, or longer temples.  I recalled expressing to my boss the idea of identifying an artisan who could create unique pieces for our shop, however, despite my efforts to find one in Belgium, I couldn't locate any; yet, during my search, I discovered skilled artisans in France, particularly in the Jura region; without thinking twice, I enrolled in the next available workshop on eyewear crafting.

Returning from the workshop filled with energy and motivation, I realized that crafting bespoke eyewear was something I could see myself doing for the long haul. Recognizing the market demand for bespoke glasses and the absence of such services, coupled with my new-found skills, I made the decision to leave my job and embark on establishing Lunetier Ludovic in January 2015.

"Lunetier" in French translates as "glasses maker" in English, and pairing it with my name, Ludovic, sounded fitting, thus giving the project its name; this marked the beginning of the journey towards realizing a dream that once seemed far-fetched.  Today, Lunetier Ludovic employs three craftspeople, a managing director, and myself, collectively working towards our shared vision.

MMD: You founded your atelier boutique in Brussels, can you tell us how’s the process of creating a refined bespoke eyewear looks like?  And how deep is your involvement over the craft from start to finish?

LE: The whole process begins with a thorough discussion with the client; during this conversation, I naturally ask numerous specific questions about their habits, preferences, needs, and desires.  The aim is to tailor the glasses to the client's specifications, rather than imposing my own style or vision of eyewear in 2024.  I genuinely want to understand what the customer desires, a skill honed over years of experience, I quickly grasp their requirements through trying on frames, discussing frame details, and understanding their personality.

Following this, I proceed to analyze the client's face, taking up to 15 measurements, these included factors such as the shape of the nose, its position relative to the pupils, nasal opening, and facial angles.  Subsequently, I capture a photograph of the client's face, concluding the initial appointment.

After that, I then begin sketching frames on tracing paper with the client's face picture as a reference, these sketches are refined using design software on the computer, resulting in six different designs presented on cardboard at scale.

During the second appointment, we finalize all aspects of the frames, including shape, material, hinges, and temples. Depending on the client's preferences, we offer frames crafted from acetate, buffalo horn, metal, wood, 18kt gold, and turtle shells; these can be further customized with inlays such as precious stones, leather, deer horns, various metals, antique watch spare parts, or wood.  We also discuss options for rivets and hinges, offering classic choices like round dots in silver or brass, as well as bespoke designs such as coat of arms, lion heads, or patterns.  Similarly, we collaborate with the client during live sketching sessions to determine the best fit for the sides or temples, while we predominantly adhere to classic designs, we are open to accommodating unusual requests.

Following this second meeting, the production starts in our workshop, where we oversee the process meticulously.  While we handle most production in-house, for materials like solid gold and turtle shell, we collaborate with partners in Europe due to their specialized skills.  We take immense pride in our work and hold ourselves to high standards; If at any point we feel uncertain, we start afresh to ensure every detail meets our expectations. This dedication to excellence has been pivotal in our reputation over the years.

The third appointment focuses on fitting the nearly completed frames, making adjustments to the nose pads and temple ends as needed.  We also discuss the finish—whether shiny, matte, or brushed—and finalize engravings.  One side of the frame typically bears the inscription "Lunetier Ludovic" alongside the craft year, while the other side may feature the client's name, initials, or life motto.  Additionally, we use this opportunity to discuss optical lenses; overall, the entire process typically spans around three months.

MMD: You have a wide range of precious and eccentric materials, from sheep and deer horns to turtle shell, in your atelier’s material library, can you tell us how did you source them and your selection process looks like?  Also, what is the most interesting (or trickiest) material that you used in the past and why?

LE: For the wood, it's an incredible story, it originated from a customer of mine who used to work as an antique furniture restorer.  As he neared the end of his career, he decided to sell the wood he had kept throughout his life, hoping to find someone who would appreciate and utilize it; he explained that he hadn't used it much due to its rarity and exceptional quality, fearing it would be wasted. He had acquired it in the 1980s at the start of his career from an artisan in Liège who had purchased it for furniture restoration purposes.  This artisan, in turn, had acquired it after World War II from a seller in Paris, who had originally intended it for furniture making; In sifting through the pile of wood, we discovered newspapers dating back to those times, including articles about events such as the end of World War II, and an auction of an apartment in Paris in 1921!  We feel immensely honored to possess such remarkable wood and are fully aware of its rarity and historical significance.

As for other materials, we occasionally receive contributions from customers who view them as waste but which we consider valuable treasures; these materials may include old horns or watch parts, all of which are fantastic to work with.

MMD: In your opinion, what are the criteria when it comes to a well-made bespoke eyewear?

LE: There are several criteria contributed to defining a well-made bespoke eyewear:

i.) Customization: The hallmark of bespoke eyewear is customization tailored to the individual's needs and preferences; this includes not only the fit but also the design elements such as frame shape, material, colour, and detailing;

ii.) Precision craftsmanship: Attention to detail and precision craftsmanship are essential; each pair of bespoke eyewear should be meticulously crafted, with precise measurements and flawless assembly to ensure optimal fit and comfort, the comfort of the sight and the daily wear is very important;

iii.) Personalization: Beyond mere customization, well-made bespoke eyewear offers a level of personalization that reflects the wearer's style, personality, and unique preferences; this can include custom engraving, unique design elements, or incorporating personal motifs or symbols;

iv.) Attention to detail: Every aspect of the eyewear, from the hinges and rivets to the finishing touches, should demonstrate meticulous attention to detail; this attention to detail enhances both the aesthetic appeal and the functionality of the eyewear;

v.) Durability and longevity: Well-made bespoke eyewear should be built to last, using high-quality materials and expert craftsmanship to ensure durability and longevity, this includes considerations such as robust construction, sturdy hinges, and scratch-resistant coatings;

vi.) Client involvement: A crucial aspect of bespoke eyewear is client involvement throughout the design and production process. This ensures that the final product meets the client's expectations, and reflects their unique style and preferences.

Overall, a well-made bespoke eyewear combines superior craftsmanship, premium materials, meticulous attention to detail, personalized design, and client collaboration to create a truly unique and exceptional pair of glasses.

MMD: As a Founder and Craftsman yourself, can you share with us what is your most memorable experience?  What challenges that you’ve encountered before, and how did you overcome them?

LE: The biggest challenge is being a pioneer, creating a completely different concept without being able to draw inspiration from others, I mean, I had to constantly test and adapt the entire concept, but on the other hand, it is also our strength.  Our bespoke service is exactly as I envisioned it to be, however, it has been, and, continues to be a consistently challenging aspect of our business; we constantly strive to improve it: “How can we enhance the process?”, “How can we make it easier and more elegant?”, even after 9 years, we are still working on a new way to present the bespoke service in our first-floor lounge, and it’s exciting!

MMD: Let’s talk about yourself, can you tell us what’s your personal style is?  And what is your favorite ensemble and why?

LE: In my late twenties and early thirties, I used to say, "I'm an old soul in a young body."; although I’m a little older now, my appreciation for the past endures, especially when it comes to fashion.  I love the way people used to dress – they had working suits and Sunday outfits, the elegance of men sporting hats and ties, sometimes I daydream about living in that bygone era!  My style remains firmly grounded in the classics, in winter, you'll find me in my rotation of five grey trousers and an abundance of navy-blue cardigans, all discreetly label-free; As the weather warms, I switch to beige trousers, always paired with a white or light blue shirt boasting long sleeves and devoid of pockets, a well-cut jacket completes my outfit. 

Footwear is another passion of mine; over the past decade, I've only bought very few pairs of shoes and I meticulously maintain and still wear them regularly.  Polishing my shoes is almost therapeutic, although I reserve this ritual for peaceful evenings rather than rushed mornings.  When winter arrives, I never leave the house without my beloved flat cap, crafted from tweed – a timeless accessory that adds a dash of character to my winter attire.

MMD: If there are three items in your wardrobe that you can’t live without, what are they and why?

LE: Definitely my beige chino trousers, a crisp blue shirt, and my beloved cashmere jacket; these essentials are versatile and suitable for most occasions.

MMD: In your opinion, how did you see the association of a piece of refined bespoke eyewear to a modern gentleman’s style?  And how does it associate to you and even your work?

LE: I like to be as discreet as possible and timeless is also a key value for me, so mostly when I designed a clean and elegant piece of eyewear, I follow the eyebrows line and try to center as much as possible to the eyes in the center of the lens shape, that will be harmonious and give the customer a fit look.  The details will be key too!  A wrapped hinge part, is a must!  No one will understand the complexity of a wrapped hinge, unless they wear it themselves. You don’t see such details in the industrial made eyewear, knowers will know.

Discretion and timelessness are paramount to me, especially when it comes to design; when crafting a clean and elegant piece of eyewear, I meticulously align the frame with the natural curve of the eyebrows and strive to center the eyes within the lens shape, this creates a harmonious look that enhances the wearer's appearance.

Attention to detail is crucial in my work, and I like to incorporate wrapped hinge, a feature that may go unnoticed by the casual observer but is appreciated by those who understands the intricacies of quality eyewear.  Such craftsmanship is never found in mass-produced eyewear; it's a subtle nod to connoisseurs who recognize and appreciate fine craftsmanship.

MMD: When you heard the word ‘style’, what does it mean to you?

LE: For me, the word "style" goes far beyond mere fashion trends or clothing choices, it encompasses a unique expression of oneself through a multitude of elements: clothing, accessories, demeanor, and even attitude; it's about confidently projecting my personality, values, and creativity in how I present myself to the world.  Ultimately, “style” serves as a form of self-expression and authenticity, transcending superficial appearances.

MMD: Besides being well-dressed and well-groomed, in your opinion, what other qualities that a modern gentleman should have?

LE: Education is key, wearing a suit is one thing, but how to interact and be is another thing; that’s something I’ve learned since I was a child, I remember going to my grandparents’ place to celebrate Christmas with a navy blue jacket and a flannel grey pants, my father cleaned my shoes before leaving our home otherwise my grandfather would say something; I think that unconsciously, that’s how I learned how to dress for certain circumstances.  Looking back, I understand my father's tough stance on certain behaviors, it was his way of teaching me valuable lessons about navigating society, a gift I now appreciate.

MMD: If someone comes to you one day and ask how s/he can become a great bespoke eyewear craftsman, what is your advice?

LE: Precision, passion, patience; try, and try again.  When crafting, always keep in mind how and what you could do better next time.

Special thanks to Mr. Ludovic Elens.

Image courtesy of Lunetier Ludovic, Brussels.


bottom of page