Cartier Hosts a Soirée in Paris to Celebrate ‘Clash,’ Its Latest Line of Jewelry That’s a Veritable Ode to the Attraction of Opposites
A star-studded crowd gathered in Paris to celebrate the launch of the French jewelry house's newest collection.
For the launch of Cartier’s new jewelry collection titled “Clash,” the Parisian jeweler chose to host a star-studded soirée that paid homage to the latest line’s core design concepts—that of duality, attraction of opposites, and concurrent masculine and feminine energies—in Paris on April 10.
In recent years, the brand has deployed considerable means to create unique, “money-can’t-buy” experiences that immerse guests in the world of Cartier. But rarely have their exercises in product-positioning reached such heights in the attempt to wow and pique curiosity without actually revealing the products themselves.
And yet, that’s exactly what happened at the worldwide launch of Clash, for which Cartier pulled out all the stops with a black-tie gala, described on their glossy, hand-delivered invitation, which also featured a reproduction of an aerial map of 19th–century Paris, as “Un dîner très particulier.”
When the evening arrived, the entrance and courtyard of the historic Conciergerie building on the Île de la Cité, one of Paris’s two natural islands on the River Seine, were illuminated in Cartier crimson. Along the banks of the Seine, an endless line of black chauffeured cars brought the early evening traffic of Central Paris to a standstill as some 300 guests, many of them in town just for the occasion, made their way down to the Conciergerie’s medieval cellars, known as the Hall of Guards, for the fete.
The choice of the venue itself echoed the contradictions that Cartier sought to evoke through its elaborate staging for the anticipated reveal of Clash. Once a royal palace to the medieval kings of France, the Conciergerie had become, by the late 18th century, the city’s main penitentiary used to hold those awaiting the guillotine in the wake of the French Revolution. A painted likeness of its most illustrious inmate, Queen Marie Antoinette, who spent the last weeks of her life inside its dungeon awaiting her own bloody fate, hung outside above the public entrance of an adjacent chapel that now stands in lieu of the former prison.
It made perfect sense, then, that Sofia Coppola, who directed the sometimes tongue-in-cheek historical drama Marie Antoinette, was seated to the right of Cartier International’s president and chief executive, Cyrille Vigneron.
When Vigneron rose to speak, first to thank his international audience and then to announce a new chapter in Cartier’s jewelry-making history, he did so in English, but with a twist, using alliteration and rhyme in a kind of rapper’s rhapsody.
“It is my pleasure to welcome you to Paris, a place of contradictions, a city of history and hysteria, of revelations and revolutions,” he told his audience, which included Hollywood A-listers like Jake Gyllenhaal, Rami Malek and Lucy Boynton, as well as “Pacho,” the Maharaja of Punjab, and several international socialites and influencers.
“So what is Clash? Clash is not a simple crush, a flash or a splash. Nor a trash, a crash or a rash. Clash is simply a clash between two things. Clash is for women and men who do not see life as black or white, but black and white, day and night, yin and yang, shock and chic, and rock and roll. Clash is eclectic and electric, iconic and ironic, super-hot and super-cool. Clash is preciously punk and seriously fun,” Vigneron continued in one breath, drawing enthusiastic applause.
With that, guests were treated to a dinner of scallops and truffle millefeuille, Wagyu beef, and a refreshing concoction by Cédric Grolet, crowned the world’s best pâtissier in 2017 (and borrowed for the night from the Hôtel Meurice). Grolet’s signature dessert known as “Fruit of the Golden Tree” managed to perfectly reproduce the shapes of lemons, pears, apricots, oranges, and apples in chocolate, and fill them with a light mousse and jelly made from those fruits inside.
The musical entertainment was also a contrast of old and new. Two avant-gardist acts—l’Impératrice, and Christine and the Queens—were followed by Billy Idol’s unexpected return to the stage, before a lineup of DJs eventually took over for the wee hours of the night.
Through all the revelry, “Clash” was, ironically, never shown, save for a brief sighting of a gold ring from the collection, flashed over a screen placed above the musical stage under the medieval arcades of the great hall. As the audience was told but not shown, Cartier’s Clash is styled as an attitude rather than an accessory line. Only a privileged few were invited to preview the collection before its official launch, and discover Clash a versatile, daily-wear jewelry line that combines recognizable Cartier motifs, like its stud, bead, and “Clou de Paris,” a pointed cabochon shape, to form geometric variants that contrast softly rounded shapes against their spikier counterparts on each piece of jewelry.
For now, the collection is limited to 14 items in the shapes of rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, all in a rich shade of yellow gold, with some featuring touches of coral. They share an evident “air de famille” with past Cartier creations, like the Love and Trinity collections, in their similar architectural volume, and reference the pronounced reliefs that Jeanne Toussaint, the brand’s design director from 1933 to 1970, brought to the maison’s more sculptural jewelry.
“The duality of Clash is something that we have worked on before, like the dynamic tension in our emblematic Panthère, that is both masculine and feminine by nature because it is soft, but also has claws,” Vigneron explained. The collection fits squarely into Cartier’s two-fold strategy to reposition the DNA of the brand by reworking historic codes into modern designs, and, according to Vigneron, “to reconcile creation with the notion of value for money.” Prices start at €1,700 (just under $2,000).
“Luxury must above all be inspirational,” Vigneron said toward the end of the evening to a room full of guests who, after a very special, memorable night, and with heightened expectations for the eventual unveiling of Clash, could not agree more.
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