“In my time, I was the best. From the late 1970s, everything blossomed. I used to make glasses for Ava Gardner. How about that! I supplied her with glasses two weeks before she died. Treating someone famous with integrity and being discreet is vital. Mr Cutler and I rather like the fashion world. I supposed I once shared all the typical accusations that it’s superficial, ephemeral and lightweight. But I learned that it’s exactly these traits that make it so exciting. Now we have to make snap-judgements, we have to work by inspiration. It might take only two minutes with Rei (Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons and sometime Cutler and Gross Collaborator) to choose the colours of the plastics and lenses… But to understand how to interpret those two minutes takes 40 years of experience. We are traditionalists at heart, with a mind for fashion merging the two is a bridge we like to cross.”
Extract from Forty Years of Vision and Style, 2009
Tony Gross and Graham Cutler met at optometry school and formed a formidable duo. When the pair launched the brand back in 1969, arguably no one else understood the transformative power of spectacles and sunglasses better than Tony. While Graham brought an incredible eye for detail, patience and ruthless practicality to their design solutions, Tony truly believed in the transcendence of spectacles from unattractive, government-funded pieces of eye science to a genuine fashion accessory infused with sex appeal and glamour.
For the first three decades, the brand’s existence had much to do with Tony’s formidable, near–unquenchable social appetite and ability to mix just as easily with royalty (Princess Anne once paid a visit to the palace to collect the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement on behalf of the company) as artists like Howard Hodgkin or David Hockney. For a period during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Cutler and Gross opened a shop on St Christopher’s Place and every weekend it was full of Tony’s wild and eccentric wonderful friends. People like Grace Jones, Ava Gardner, Bryan Ferry, Edna O’Brien, Janet Street-Porter….
Tony’s enthusiasm and taste was undeniably infectious - a magnetism that drew a huge cross-section towards the brand and continues to give Cutler and Gross its unique and much-loved personality today.