Cartier celebrates revamped London flagship; introduces new Charlie’s Angels ambassador
Cartier celebrated its revamped London flagship on Monday, and revealed its new ambassador – Ella Balinska, the new star of the upcoming reboot of Charlie’s Angels.
“It’s a great club of ambassadors to belong to,” smiled the London-born actress at an exclusive dinner in Chiltern Firehouse hotel to fete several days of activation by the French jeweler.
Balinska, of Polish and Caribbean origin, stars with Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott in the sequel to the girl trio fantasy, which hits cinema screens next month. She also joins Kaya Scodelario of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Skins fame, as a fellow face of Cartier, which despite being founded 172 years ago can boast that almost half its customers are millenials.
The jewelry marque also staged a staged a series of talks hosted by fashion editor Caroline Issa, who interviewed such figures as show producer Es Devlin; model Alek Wek and designer Grace Wales Bonner. All these activations were unveiled with flourish during what the house has christened The Year of Cartier in London.
Located on 175 New Bond Street, in a five-story listed building, the boutique now extends west to Albemarle Street, with a special diamond section.
Architect Bruno Moinard said his goal was to create, “a refined mélange of French savoir-faire adapted to the London spirit, interspersed with a few British cultural references.” One VIP room is finished in British Racing Green; another called Ruby plays on the curvy shapes of UK barbershops. A strip of larch in the watch department mimics the control panel of an Aston Martin.
On the ground floor are three salons – Cartier Icons, scents and accessories. While the first floor has the full range of Cartier services and some exceptional pieces from emerald-eyed diamond encrusted panther bracelets to vintage creations – like the Halo tiara developed for Begum Andrée Aga Khan back in 1934.
There’s also a second-floor, 150-square-meter, invitation-only club called La Résidence, with a salon and mixologist barman, for master classes, private dinners, photo exhibitions and performances – available for the fashion week, Frieze and Wimbledon. Over 100 events are scheduled for 2019.
Cartier has a second store nearby at 41 Old Bond Street since 2000, which also boasts some rare collectors pieces, from a Tank watch once owned by Fred Astaire to a silver cigarette case Winston Churchill gave to his son Randolph.
Cartier’s links to the UK go back over a century. The jeweler opened its first foreign boutique in London back in 1902, two years before France and Britain signed the Entente Cordiale, at 4 New Burlington – always in Mayfair.
Founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, the marque became a favorite of the Prince of Wales, who became Edward VII on the death of his mother Queen Victoria in 1901.
Cartier, Edward famously remarked, was “the jeweler to kings and the king of jewelers.” Still today, Cartier is the only foreign jeweler to bear the distinction of being a supplier to the Royal Family. The brand became the darling of British aristocracy, attracted to its classy creativity and use of novel materials like platinum.
Curiously, Cartier’s strongest links to the Empire were via Indian Maharajas. The founders’ grandson Louis Cartier, who ran the UK division, even attended the coronation of Edward as Emperor of India in 1909, nourishing links with leading members of the Indian nobility who would go on to become clients. Giant photos of maharajas adorn several rooms.
Jacques’ acute understanding of that British taste for eccentricity was apparent in the creation of beetle brooches in 1920, just when the city was in thrall to Egypt mania. A tradition maintained by his son Jean-Jacques Cartier, who developed the famed Crash watch in 1967, at the height of Swinging Sixties London. The house still has a team of a dozen artisans, specializing in diamond setting, on the upper floors of its London flagship.
By 1937, Cartier was producing some 20 tiaras to be worn to the coronation of George VI. The king also acquired the diadem Halo, for his fiancée, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the future Queen Mother); later given to their eldest daughter, Queen Elizabeth II for her 18th birthday, and worn by Catherine Middleton for her wedding to Prince William at Westminster Abbey in 2013.
The love affair continuing in entre-deux-guerres with the Bright Young Things, elegant socialites like Diana Cooper and Edwina Mountbatten, who wore the quirky Tutti Frutti diamond bracelets in diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires.
Cartier has been owned since the late '80s by South Africa’s Rupert Family, part of the luxury group Richemont. Its stable of brands encompasses Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, Azzedine Alaïa, Dunhill, Montblanc, Sulka, Chloé and a group of stellar watchmakers – including Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and Vacheron Constantin - making it the world’s third largest luxury conglomerate.
Here in Britain, Cartier has always had a prominent presence in British social life; since 1984 sponsoring the famous annual Cartier Polo matches; and classic car rallies at Goodwood.
For the revamped flagship, Cartier created a New Bond Street vintage collection of emblematic designs from the famous Tank, Pasha and Tonneau watches to the best-selling Love bracelets. And re-issued the Crash watch. In modern retailing manner, dropping one into the boutique each month. The next 23 are already sold out.
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