Tony Gross, co-founder of British eyewear brand Cutler & Gross has died, aged 78. Gross was an advocate of fashionable, trendsetting eyewear design that attracted fashion circles and celebrities including Elton John, Princess Diana and Grace Jones.
The Cutler & Gross label was started in London in 1969 by partners Tony and Graham, who met at optometry school in London in the ’60s. The entrepreneurial duo opened their first store in Knightsbridge in 1971, stocking handmade bespoke frames, designed, unlike most at the time, as a fashion accessory.
“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.” Extract from Forty Years of Vision and Style, 2009.
“I still have vivid memories of meeting Tony at Optometry College in London,” says Graham Cutler. “We were looking for something to occupy ourselves at lunchtimes, and Tony suggested poker. So he taught me how to play and groups of us would play each day for money. He had been a professional player before going to College, so was very successful! We also discovered that we had met a lot of the same people in our earlier rambles around Soho.
“After college our friendship continued, and we ended up working for the same group of Optometrists in London, and often working together. We started talking about opening our own practice, where we would each be able to work just six months of the year. Obviously that plan didn’t work out!”
Marie Wilkinson, Design Director for over 30 years at Cutler & Gross said: “He was, without question, a pioneer, turning eyewear into the genuine fashion accessory infused with sex appeal and glamour that we know today. The first three decades of the brand’s existence had much to do with Tony’s formidable social appetite and his ability to mix just as easily with Royalty and music stars, as with his wonderful friends that filled the Cutler & Gross stores. Tony’s enthusiasm and taste were undeniably infectious, and coupled with his skill as an Optometrist, drew huge cross-sections of people to the brand. His spirit continues to give Cutler & Gross its unique and much loved personality to this day. He will be sorely missed.” Portrait (top) by Dennis Rolfe / www.cutlerandgross.com CN