Cartier’s Spring Rendez-Vous Unveiled Glamorous Treasures in an 18th-Century Parisian Mansion

See the dazzling jewels, intricate timepieces, and flawless style on view during Cartier's Fashion Week event.

Cartier's Spring Rendez-Vous in Paris, 2018. Courtesy of Cartier.

Fashion Week was a frosty proposition last week as the Fall 2018 prêt-à-porter shows got underway, with temperatures in Paris dipping to a bitter 19°F degrees, without even accounting for the wind chill. 

As the runway shows wound down this week just when spring seemed to return, Cartier held a one-day presentation of its new and upcoming pieces for spring and summer of 2018—an invitation-only event that brought in global influencers, fashion journalists, and buyers in town mainly for the fashion shows. The bi-annual presentation billed as “Cartier Rendez-Vous” was, as it has been in recent years, an elaborate and charming affair.

For every Rendez-Vous, Cartier selects a remarkable venue in Paris and transforms it into a memorable showcase for its new collections. This year’s edition was held in the historic yet intimate 1728, an 18th-century Parisian-style hôtel particulier (or townhouse, if you will) in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. 

Hidden away on the Rue d’Anjou and nestled between the Elysée Palace, home of the French president, and the church of the Madeleine, 1728 is a stone’s throw from the residence of the newly appointed US ambassador to Paris on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. In this neighborhood, a grand style of Parisian life survives behind the walls of imposing baroque buildings. 

The name 1728 refers to the building’s year of construction by Antoine Mazin, an architect engaged in the service of Louis XV. It is a rare jewel of French classical architecture that miraculously survived demolition by Baron Haussmann. Under Emperor Napoleon III, Haussmann undertook a massive urban renewal program that transformed Paris, in part by leveling entire buildings like this one to widen roads.

When Cartier is not occupying its salons, 1728 houses a restaurant specializing in inventive French cuisine served in a grand “period” style under Venetian chandeliers and the watchful eyes of Caravaggesque characters gazing upon diners from paintings on the walls. If you haven’t visited, it’s worth making a reservation.

The Salon. Courtesy of Cartier.

Past a porch guarded by a red-jacketed Cartier bellboy and up some stairs, one stepped into a cozy bar area serving coffee and champagne, a delightful avant-goût of the three gilded salons linked together with 16-foot-high ceilings and salvaged parquet floors.

The luxurious rococo style of 1728’s 18th-century interiors was in perfect contrast with the contemporary scenography created by Cartier to receive its guests. The pairing of old and new set the stage for Cartier, a heritage brand founded in 1847, to present its contemporary designs, many of which feature classic favorites updated or reinterpreted to appeal to the modern taste of today’s younger clients.

Embracing the “Spirit of Sharing” 

In the first salon, a room dedicated to Cartier’s women’s accessories, new pieces were laid out on a black suede daybed, including recent creations in the Cactus and Juste un Clou collections, evening clutches in shimmering shades of bronze, and striking pieces of jewelry from the Panthère line. Were a grande dame to inhabit this room, one felt, the jewelry would furnish the perfect finishing touch to Madame’s outfit on her way to an embassy party down the street.

“The idea was to create in this first room a feminine setting with a convivial atmosphere so that our show remained a pleasant experience,” a spokesperson for Cartier explained. “After all, the spirit of sharing is a special trait of the Maison Cartier.”

In the Cactus collection, a spectacular new parure with matching necklace, bracelets, and rings was set with contrasting blue and green beads of lapis lazuli and chrysoprase, reminiscent of Cartier’s Tutti Frutti style.

The classic Juste un Clou line. Courtesy of Cartier.

Hammering Home a Classic Design 

The rebellious Juste un Clou (“Just a Nail”) line, first designed in the 1970s and updated in 2012, manages to retain the radical and groundbreaking character of its original concept: to raise an ordinary object—a nail—to the status of jewelry. For the first time this year, the pointed motif of Juste un Clou has been incorporated in cufflinks shown in Cartier’s men’s accessories line. For women, new nail-shaped rings and bracelets are made more supple and stackable this year but continue to express the disruptive edge of the House.

The panther motif is a staple for the Maison. Courtesy of Cartier.

The Wild Side of Cartier

Moving on to a second salon, Cartier’s new Panthère watches glittered in the golden shades of a ceiling suspension made of gold metal squares. Updated with double or triple bracelets in rose, white, and yellow gold, they were shown in Geneva last January, but viewing them again only enhanced their appeal—even for those who had already seen them at the SIHH. A long-cherished symbol, the panther is a motif that first appeared in Cartier’s collections in 1914 and continues to be featured in its jewelry, watches, clutch buckles, and perfume in various abstract and figurative interpretations.

Interior Salon at Cartier’s Rendez-Vous. Courtesy of Cartier.

Hollywood Glamour

In the room dedicated to men’s accessories, the newly redesigned Santos watch reigned as a centerpiece. The latest version of the classic Santos watch updates a collection that is 14 years old. The new line is both elegant and modern, thanks in part to its easy-to-change watch straps that snap into place—reflecting Cartier’s commitment to modernity not only in form but also in function.

“Our focus this year is on masculine elegance with new offerings in cuff links, tie pins, pocket jewels, and studs for tuxedo shirts, which are very popular in America, especially during the award season in Hollywood,” said Cartier’s spokesperson.

A designer for all seasons, Cartier wrapped up this moment of conviviality with an elegant buffet of amuse-bouches in this oasis of elegance—a much-needed respite for the fashion set in between two runway shows. 

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