Thank you for joining us in the Tracey Neuls Bedroom, working here front of house in the shoe shop can be very sociable!
Thank you, I am thrilled to be invited for my own Paula Yates moment!
You’ve worked with Cutler and Gross for over 30 years, did you set your sights on them and can you tell us a bit about the earlier days when you joined?
Honestly I had not heard of Cutler and Gross until a college friend returned from an interview with Mr Gross and told me about the job. He said that there was ‘an old fashioned workshop making colourful frames upstairs, you would love it Marie!’
At first the customers would not let me help them as they visited expressly to be seen by Mr Cutler and Mr Gross. At that time many of the frames were in bold designs and made of Perspex and I asked the frame maker George Smith to teach me how adjust and fit these challenging frames to the clients (then adjustments were made using a Bunsen burner!) and in this way I made my self indispensable and gained their confidence and eventually earnt my place in the shop.
In my first week, I met Ava Gardner and Grace Jones , who were both good friends of Mr Gross.
Can you give us a little insight to the personalities of Graham Cutler and Tony Gross
I think they sum up their own personalities in their own words:
“It’s nice if glasses can be sexy and mysterious. People who need glasses don’t have to feel separated from glamour” - Tony Gross
“My idea of design is a bit old-fashioned. It should be practical, functional and then look good – in that order” - Graham Cutler
The glasses are iconic in their own right, what actors / actresses have been some of your favourite to style?
The actors from Kingsman, hands down! Colin Firth is utterly charming and extremely knowledgeable on Mens attire and how he likes to wear glasses.; Michael Gambon, an irreverent hoot and totally wonderful.
You are the design director and a trained optician, an absolute specialist. What are some things that made Cutler and Gross become the institution that it is today?
The loyalty of Cutler and Gross fans can never be underestimated and I think that by innovating with new shapes and materials and by collaborating with other designers that feel the same as us, we may remain fresh and relevant.
Cutler and Gross are timeless pieces and celebrate their Design archive in the vintage collection. How important is it to also keep in line with current eye wear trends?
Mr Cutler and Mr Gross created the brand in response to the renewed interest in rare vintage pieces in 2000 and the Archive collection has developed in response to our growing customer requests
To wear what no others can obtain; like childrens’ toys—few survive in perfect condition over time.
What is one of your personal favourites in the collections?
My current favourite is model 1287, a 1980’s super cat eye, featuring a lazered landscape seeded with Swarovski crystals ---shades for the night time!
Is there one best selling style continues throughout all the seasons?
The 0822 continues to capture the hearts of many of our customers, both male and female; it’s an optical aviator shape with a sinuous brow bar, dropped hinge height and a generous keyhole bridge’ these details believe it or not conspire to make a flattering pair of glasses!
When did you start wearing glasses?
I was 8 years old when my Mum took me to the optician, Mr Barber at Baxendales, to ask why I liked to sit so close to the television set. I was very fortunate to be able to choose my frames, I think my Mum wanted to encourage me to wear them (my spare pair were NHS , crystal frames which I later customized with glitter ‘to make them pretty’) My first glasses were oval tortoiseshell and how magical was my vision with them! I will never forget how strong and brave I felt wearing those glasses.
As the leader of a design team, who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by how the way people wear clothes constantly changes and to make frames in response to the new attitudes and silhouettes.
It’s amazing how glasses can transform a person’s face and effect the perception of personality.
What’s one piece of advice you give about choosing eyewear?
I think to be open and curious about trying new shapes and colours.
You are always head to toe in style. Iconic eyewear and Tracey Neuls footwear…What clothing designer do you love?
I buy clothes by silhouette so Comme des Garcons, Giles and Vintage clothes from Church street, where the new Cutler and Gross Archive store resides; for block colour I love Sportmax. For Sundays in Essex, I wear Margaret Howell.
Can you describe your home style and what your bedroom is like?
I live in a Victorian maisonette which is painted in moody colours and filled with 1980’s furniture from the days when I lived around the corner for SCP in Curtain Road.
My bedroom is painted a Farrow and Ball London Clay, which is very cosy colour to sleep within, and is a lovely backdrop to the chocolate brown leather Terence Woodgate bed and Lansdowne sofa.
For a pop of colour I have an orange coloured Porro chest of drawers with each drawer a different colour ,orange, yellow, pink and beetroot.
What books are by your bed?
Currently I am enjoying
'The secret lives of colours' By Kassia St Clair
A compendium of Peanuts by Charles Schulz
And my current book club read is 'One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich'
What’s a book that you loved when you were younger?
I adored Richard Scarry's Busy Busy World.
Can you describe a bedroom of yours from the past?
When I was a little girl and sharing a room with my younger sister, there was a chest of drawers at the end of the bed with a pile of fresh laundry and blankets and without my glasses, I would imagine faces and animals in the blurry outlines.
Are you a morning or night time person?
I so wish to be a morning person as I love the early walk through Kensington Gardens to the tube but the reality is I am a night person.
What have you been listening to recently in your room?
I have finally settled on waking up to radio 3 and then once up and dressed, switching over to radio 4 for the reality of the day.
What collection / projects are you working on at the moment, can you give us a hint?
I am currently working on launching and communicating ss2108 collection; at Cutler and Gross we show and sell in the same season as this works best for our 7 stores worldwide.
Its exciting times as the collection has expanded to include metal frames for which we have developed new methods of manufacturing.
What are your dreams of the future?
My dreams are for my amazing son, Wilkie, to realise his dreams, for Cutler and Gross to grow and grow and for my cooking to improve.nMy husband says I cook like Ria from Carla Lane’s 1970 sitcom Butterflies!
P.s. Your hair is always amazing - Would you share with us who cuts it, or is it top secret? We don’t blame you if it is!
I am happy to share because Lesley McIntyre and her colourist Mikko are honestly, apart from Tracey and you, the most magical, beautiful people I know.
Yes they tend my hair but they also refresh and reset my outlook and I always emerge from their Bloomsbury enclave after a combination of TLC and lively conversation, a better and braver person.
The above picture was taken by photographer Uli Schade, a still life composition with Cutler and Gross eyewear and Tracey Neuls shoes.
"We have had a lot of fun in our East London shop, pushing the boundaries of retail, treating it like a gallery and hosting thought-provoking Artist Collaborations and creating our most recent Mise en Scene Shoe Bar. We've had a blast and thought leaving you on a funny note would make perfect sense. We look forward to serving you at our other Two Locations in London and of course Online.
Thanks for all your support, laughs and damn good fun - onwards and upwards!"
This year, the Viral ACBF will be a new online experience bringing you a lot of good surprises! We're really happy to be sharing the web live access with over 100 artists! For art lovers and curious spirits, you'll be able to find paintings, sculptures, photography & print edition, ceramics, collages, drawings and all sorts of weird and amazing artworks and of course SHOES.