A History of Racing Eyewear Part II: Fausto Coppi

To celebrate summer, grand tours and road racing’s aesthetic heritage, we present portraits of renowned riders epitomising the epoch (and the type of sunglasses) they competed in.

For most fans of the sport, Fausto Coppi should need no introduction, but his allure as both pioneering athlete and mid-century fashionista won’t be ignored. Rapha have dedicated products and exhibitions to the man known as Il Campionissimo, a figure who personifies the enchantment of road racing.

Fausto Coppi’s greatest era of racing came post World War Two, during which he had been a prisoner of the British army in Africa. From the late 1940s and through the 1950s he took training, nutrition and winning races to new levels of sophistication, and also looked very cool doing so.

It was during this period that the sunglasses market was booming, thanks in part to Hollywood, TV and the popularisation of the ‘leisure’ lifestyle. As technology and the eyeshade market developed, crossovers between industrial design and everyday spectacle frames became more common. Giuseppe Ratti’s Persol designs, for example, were used by early NASA pilots and worn by other style icons of the era, like Steve McQueen.

For Fausto Coppi, sunglasses were usually reserved for off the bike endeavours such as slipping away from the paparazzi or a degree of privacy before a race. But he would occasionally wear aviators or glacier goggles on the bike on his way to yet another stylish victory.

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