We recently caught up with London-based designer and friend of Cutler and Gross, Florence Bridge. Since founding her brand in 2013 Florence has featured Cutler and Gross glasses in two of her campaigns and also held a pop up event at our archive store. Florence’s brand is focused on sustainability and creating beautiful garments with a minimal carbon footprint and as you may have guessed, we are big fans!
Who is Florence Bridge?
That’s me! 29 years old, Sagittarius, born and lives in North London. Loves making people feel happy via clothes.
Can you pinpoint the origin of your interest in fashion/design? When did you realise that this is what you were meant to do?
My Great Aunt used to make bespoke wedding dresses, when I was about 8 years old I remember her describing a wedding dress she was working on to me. It was covered in hundreds of hand sewn pearls and I just remember thinking that was the coolest job in the world and that’s what I wanted to do! But it was really when I saw my graduate collection going down the runway and I started getting requests from people to buy the pieces that I really thought – this is what I’m meant to be doing.
What has been a highlight/memorable moment in your career thus far?
I love dressing music artists for performances. Baby Spice wearing one of my powder pink MATILDA jackets was really exciting – if the 9 year old me had known that one day this was going to happen... I also loved dressing Shirley Manson for her Garbage tour last year in a series of patchwork leather dresses. She is so cool.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
My mum – She is the most down to earth person I know and has taught me the value of working hard, being kind to others, being STRONG and not accepting any bull***t.
Where does inspiration come from?
Inspiration for me always starts with nature. I love finding shells, leaves, flowers and looking at their structural patterns. I also love painting and marbling and making a huge mess! I’ve made some of my favourite prints from developing different mark making techniques. I like contrasting really mundane things with the exotic, one of my best-selling prints was made from pieces of broken coral that I photocopied on the office photocopier.
What have you seen on recent travels that inspired you?
I just spent 5 months travelling around Mexico, Central America and some of South America. I was inspired by SO much – everyday my eyes were opened to so many incredible things. The impeccably dressed cowboys in the Colombian countryside definitely caught my eye. I was looking at them thinking - I want to dress like that! (but with a feminine twist) which was when I had the idea of the pale peach embroidered cowboy shirt – in my new collection. I visited a tiny town called Chamula near Chiapas, Mexico and all the men and women were wearing the most amazing oversized fluffy black jackets and skirts, all the women had two long plaits down their backs all woven with different metallic colours – it was such a beautiful place and some of the most unusual outfits I’ve ever seen. The beading techniques worn by the Guna Yala tribe who live on the San Blas Islands between Panama and Colombia also massively inspired me – their way of life is truly unique and I have so much respect for them. They wear the most incredible colourful hand beaded outfits with the patterns depending on which island they live on and use shells and coconuts as currency. It was paradise - it was also shocking to see how their islands have been affected by plastic pollution in the ocean :(
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years time as well as having a happy and healthy family, I would love to have grown my business sustainably, with lots more lovely stockists both in the UK and abroad. For my most recent collection, I have collaborated with ‘Shatila Studio’ a needlework studio founded by all female Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. It has been an honour to incorporate their traditional embroidery techniques into my new collection and I love being able to support these incredibly entrepreneurial women. I would like to be doing lots more projects like this in the future, making a positive change in people’s lives through fashion.
When and where you did you first discover Cutler and Gross?
I was at university and we were having a ‘Design and Visual Culture’ lecture first thing on a very rainy and miserable Monday morning in Nottingham. The lecture was about sunglasses! I remember our lecturer showing us photos of Cutler and Gross frames. A photo of Elton John wearing a pair really stuck in my mind! I was at an event a few years later and met a lovely girl who worked in the Cutler and Gross PR office. I emailed her later that week and asked to borrow some glasses for a photoshoot I was doing in the Caribbean. THEY ARE THE BEST SUNGLASSES IN THE WORLD I’ve been obsessed ever since. I especially love the vintage frames in the archive store, they have the best curated selection in there – it’s so fascinating to see how the trends in shapes and styles have all gone around and come back!
QUICK FIRE EDIT
I love Polly Morgan and her taxidermy snakes currently! but I have so many favourites…… I love Peter Doig's paintings. I just collaborated with British artist Sarah Pickstone on a special silk collection for the Royal Academy. Her paintings are beautiful too!
Favourite style icon?
Honey Ryder in Dr No.
Central in Lima, Peru (the food is insane + I love the ethos of this restaurant)
Holkham beach, Norfolk
Night-owl or early-bird?
Botox or detox?