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In honour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Spring 2017 exhibition devoted to Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons, we celebrate Cutler and Gross’ history of collaborations with one of the most revered fashion designers of our time.

Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo is what you call a living legend. Back in 1969, at the same time as Mr Cutler and Mr Gross were changing the way we view eyewear, she launched her avant-garde, unconventional label Comme des Garçons and later the iconic concept store Dover Street Market. Over the years, her intriguing and abstract creations have altered the way we view contemporary fashion.

With a shared passion for independent design and a refusal to follow the status quo, a collaboration between Cutler and Gross and Comme des Garçons was inevitable, as well as an enduring relationship. Rei’s husband and business partner Adrian Joffe became a close friend of our very own innovator, Mr Gross himself, who devoted his vast collection of art books and erotic literature to Dover Street Market.

Below we revisit the eye-catching highlights from these two pioneering, creative brands.

Spring/Summer 2005 – Collection inspiration: the Pink Panther

Cutler and Gross loves flashing a bit of colour. The Spring/Summer 2005 collaboration with Comme des Garçons Hommes Plus brought this ethos to life in three crystal frames with fuchsia pink lenses in a bright pink corduroy case. The show saw Rei Kawakubo send out her slightly dishevelled male models in a medley of pinks. The Pink Panther was emblazoned across t-shirts and trainers were hot to trot in this often seemingly feminine hue. Not here though. The men owned the show and the collection was wry, clever and delightfully refreshing.
Comme Des Garcons x Cutler and Gross Spring/Summer 2005

Spring/Summer 2006 – Collection inspiration: the Rolling Stones and the 40 licks logo

British music and its icons often permeate into fashion, art and design. The Comme des Garçons Homme Plus X Cutler Gross collaboration for 2006 was no exception. Mick Jagger’s influence was everywhere. In fact, his lips were smack bang on the Cutler and Gross shiny mirrored lenses. Rei Kawakubo used the iconic emblem to adorn suits, shorts and T’s. The collection paid homage to high energy rock-star style and the rebellious nature of one of the nation's favourite icons.
Comme Des Garcons x Cutler and Gross Spring/Summer 2006

Autumn/Winter 2007 - Collection inspiration: Duggie Fields, Sebastian Horsley, Andrew Logan and Michael Costiff

Idiosyncratic, stylish artists are something of a British way of life. Rei Kawakubo made four of them her muses for the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus Autumn/Winter 2007 collection. Duggie Fields, Sebastian Horsley, Andrew Logan and Michael Costiff all have their own unique style and this collection saw each of these exemplified and built on by the ever ground-breaking Japanese designer. Eight different frames were created for the collection, from purple lenses set in chic round metal frames to sporty thick white acetate shades, each man’s sensibility represented by the brand’s individual yet classic British style.
Comme Des Garcons x Cutler and Gross Autumn/Winter 2007

Spring/Summer 2008 - Collection Inspiration: to the power of three

For Rei, Spring/Summer 2008 was all about layering - to the power of three. From the invitation, with its three identical sheets of directions, to the three layered jackets, three layered trenches and, you guessed it, three layered jacquards. It was a concept developed in its entirety and, naturally, the collaboration frames with Cutler and Gross fell into line. Two show-stopping styles of glasses were developed, each with intriguing layers (yes, layers) of frames, one on top of the other in a variety of contrasting and complementary colours, right down to the lenses. Unique? Of course.
Comme Des Garcons x Cutler and Gross Spring/Summer 2008

Spring/Summer 2009 - Collection inspiration: charcoal colour and Rei Kawakubo’s dot fabric

Men in skirts. Short ones, long ones and layered up with all manner of attire. This was the Comme des Garçons Hommes Plus collection for Spring/Summer 2009. Cutler and Gross collaborated with Rei Kawakubo to produce eyewear with a charcoal palette and round in shape, like Rei’s signature dots. The three frames were bold, stylish and slightly offbeat, just the way we like it.
Comme Des Garcons x Cutler and Gross Spring/Summer 2009

Spring/Summer 2010 - Collection inspiration: school boy style

Rei Wakakubo created a little slice of nostalgia with a twist for her Spring/Summer 2010 Comme des Garçons Hommes Plus collection. Schoolboy blazers, gingham print and a touch of patchwork was the essence of the ever-innovative label’s collection. Together with Cutler and Gross she brought two eyewear styles with blue and red gingham frames to the collection, each one with tinted round lenses and as unique and chic as the looks they were teamed with.
Comme Des Garcons x Cutler and Gross Spring/Summer 2010