‘Back in 1981, I was inspired by Tony Gross and Graham Cutler’s desire to change the perception of glasses from being a medical necessity to a fashion accessory. The possibility of customising and commissioning bespoke frames was thrilling, and knowing the people who would make each pair individually by hand was very special.
‘The brand has developed under the close supervision of its founders, always driving to innovate and create beautifully designed, handmade frames. As ambassadors of handmade eyewear, it was important for them to share this love and knowledge through their own eight stores around the world and via prominent optical and fashion stores. The toughest challenge has been to satisfy demand. Buying the company’s own factory [in Cadore in northern Italy] in 2008 has been a liberating and empowering experience.
‘Cutler and Gross has established itself as a brand with a bold, independent spirit, leading the way by inspiring clients to experiment with new and unique designs rather than simply following mass-market trends. We have spearheaded the revival of handmade eyewear and beautiful craftsmanship, and want to make both ready-to-wear and bespoke glasses accessible to anyone with the taste and imagination.
‘The Knightsbridge store has been open since 1971 when Graham Cutler discovered this former wig shop, tucked away in a discreet and smart street near Harrods, which was for sale. At the time, opticians were clustered around Harley Street, but Cutler and Gross were optometrists themselves and didn’t need to rely on prescriptions from doctors. They wanted to be near the international fashion crowd in Knightsbridge.
‘The current design is only the third in the store’s history. It was originally created by architect Piers Gough and later Tom Bartlett, who are hard acts to follow. As we have our own factory, we also have our own in-house design and architectural office where we are able to conceive the look of the interior ourselves. Our architect is very interested in Patrik Schumacher’s parametricism [an avant-garde architectural style], which has led to an inspiring way of displaying the glasses. The original eye-examination room created by Gough in 1969 remains unaltered, though.
‘In terms of products, Cutler and Gross is best defined by the bold design, exquisite craftsmanship and finest materials that are found in all the brand’s frames. As a taster, we use the best cotton-based acetate, and certain styles feature hypo-allergenic ceramic nose pads, as well as gold and ruthenium platings.
‘Our latest collection includes a mixture of entirely new designs that we expect to become modern classics, as well as a selection of some bestselling frames from the archive that have been reinterpreted with improved fit, manufacture and new lens technology.’
Cutler and Gross, 16 Knightsbridge Green, London SW1X 7QL, +44 (0)20 7581 225