The Art of Maximalist Eyewear

Grace Jones wearing a vintage Cutler and Gross 0229 frame.

Maximalism is an aesthetic of fearless excess: full-throttle colour, clashing patterns, and unexpected textures.

Since 1969, Cutler and Gross has ripped up the rudimentary rule book and created eyewear that is distinctively and unapologetically bold. It’s no coincidence that two of the world’s most iconic maximalists – Elton John and Grace Jones – frequented our Knightsbridge store for their frames.

From the swinging sixties to the Memphis design movement, we reveal the roots of Cutler and Gross’s maximalist sunglasses and glasses, and how to embrace the theme.

1960s: An Era Unleashed

London in the late 60s had found its groove. The grimy post-war capital exploded into cultural megawatts of sound and colour. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band set the rhythm for a liberated youth culture, kitted out in Mary Quant mini-skirts and psychedelic prints.

The iconic Biba boutique was just up the road from the Knightsbridge store, and founder Barbara Hulanicki would pop in to pick up her favourite wrap-around sunglasses. In the evenings, Mr Gross frequented the likes of private member’s club Annabel’s, rubbing shoulders with icons and luminaries in the smoky, velvet-clad interior.

These scenes formed the foundations of Cutler and Gross’s maximalist mood. The two founders set out to design and craft glasses to be worn in these statement spaces, an antidote to the dull wire frames on offer from the NHS. Mr Cutler and Mr Gross, alongside their customers, wanted to look the part.


“Cutler and Gross glasses never apologise. I like to think of my frames as sculptural objects that I happen to be wearing, rather than displaying on a shelf at home.”

Marie Wilkinson, Style Director, Cutler and Gross

Wrap-around maximalist sunglasses


Written In Colour

The 1980s saw the emergence of the Memphis design movement. Architect and designer Ettore Sottsass’s fearless application of colour and form inspired Mr Gross to turn to saturated acetates and artful tortoiseshells, clashing brave, striated patterns with contrast lenses.

This maximalist methodology towards shape and colour has remained central to Cutler and Gross’s collections. Chunky aviator sunglasses are outlined in sky blue and crystal red, while exaggerated square frames and oversized cat-eye glasses are drenched in jewel tones.

“The Cutler and Gross customer has always been an individual. Eccentric maybe, a rare breed, certainly.”

Mr Graham Cutler

Our Colour Studio capsule takes maximalist sunglasses and glasses one step further. Drawing inspiration from happenings throughout history, our Creative Director creates a collection of architectural shapes in saturated shades. They’re crafted from a single sheet of unique acetate that will never be reissued.

Maximalist sunglasses from the Colour Studio capsule


Part Proportion, Part Personality

Maximalism is unique to the wearer. You might choose to dip your toe in by using our Face Shape Guide as a starting point, or dive head first into shape and colour. Marie Wilkinson, Cutler and Gross Style Director, shares a few of her favourite frames:

“The 1388 square sunglasses in Watermelon Crystal present a softer approach to hyperpink Barbiecore, while the 1386 square glasses are confident in Burgundy Marble. A sculptural emerald frontal adds character to the 9288 cat-eye glasses.”

Find Your Fit

From aviator sunglasses to round glasses frames for men and women, use our Frame Finder and Virtual Try-On Glasses tool to choose your style. Our Style Director’s Guide to Finding Your Frame Colour will reveal what suits.

Interested in a more bespoke experience? We offer style consultations at all Cutler and Gross stores. Tailored to your taste and lifestyle, a member of the team will lead you through shapes, colours and lenses to help you find the perfect fit.

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