Call of the Wild

SINCE 1914, CARTIER’S PAN­THÈRE HAS EN­DURED AS THE BRAND’S SYM­BOL FOR POW­ER­FUL FE­MALES. Em­i­lie Yabut-ra­zon DELVES INTO THE HIS­TORY OF THE MO­TIF AS THE JEW­ELLER CEL­E­BRATES A CEN­TURY OF IN­SPIRED DE­SIGN WITH A SPE­CIAL COL­LEC­TION

Hong Kong Tatler - - Spotlight -

The pan­ther is one of Cartier’s most recog­nis­able mo­tifs, first ap­pear­ing on a jewelled watch a cen­tury ago as a black and white pat­tern in onyx and di­a­mond paving—a tech­nique said to have pi­o­neered the con­trasts of what was to be art deco style. It was the be­gin­ning of an en­dur­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the mai­son and the enig­matic jun­gle fe­line.

That same year, Louis Cartier or­dered the art­work Lady with Pan­ther from French il­lus­tra­tor and painter George Bar­bier; it was later used by the mai­son for its ad­ver­tis­ing. The il­lus­tra­tion por­trayed a woman hold­ing and wear­ing neck­laces, with a sleek black pan­ther grace­fully rest­ing be­hind her.

Soon, the pan­ther would be­come ir­re­vo­ca­bly af­fil­i­ated with an in­domitable woman: Parisian style icon Jeanne Tous­saint,

whose as­so­ci­a­tion with the firm be­gan in 1915. Tous­saint was de­scribed by many as an orig­i­nal and af­fec­tion­ately called “Pan­thère” by Louis Cartier. She in­dulged her pas­sion for the an­i­mal by dec­o­rat­ing her apart­ment with skins and jewelled ob­jects fea­tur­ing pan­thers. Cre­ative and de­mand­ing, she en­veloped her­self in an aura of el­e­gance and dic­tated a style that was dis­tinctly her own. She be­came the company’s high jew­ellery di­rec­tor in 1933, and led Cartier away from the rigid­ity and struc­ture of art deco to­wards more fig­u­ra­tive work, pro­duc­ing some of brand’s most whim­si­cal de­signs.

In the decades that fol­lowed, the Cartier pan­ther would be seen on the arms, necks and dresses of the world’s in­de­pen­dent and most pow­er­ful fe­males, in­clud­ing Wal­lis Simp­son, Duchess of Wind­sor; US so­cialite Bar­bara Hut­ton; Princess Nina Aga Khan; and Mex­i­can ac­tress María Félix. One of the most valu­able brooches sold at auc­tion was an onyx-spot­ted Cartier de Pan­thère brooch with a 116.74-carat emer­ald cabo­chon owned by the Duchess of Wind­sor.

This year, Cartier presents a spe­cial 56-piece Pan­thère an­niver­sary col­lec­tion that draws from the vi­tal­ity of the past with 3D de­signs, op­ti­cal art and sleek de­tails, com­bined with the no­table crafts­man­ship and rare gem­stones for which the jew­eller is renowned.

Onyx, gold, di­a­monds and emer­alds fea­ture promi­nently in the col­lec­tion, which in­cludes rings, neck­laces and ban­gles. Among the high­lights is a white gold bracelet set with onyx, emer­alds and di­a­monds, and a new chis­elled look of the pan­ther carved out in solid-gold open­work, with ver­sions in yel­low and white gold, plain or set with di­a­monds.

FEMME FA­TALE A model wears the Pan­thère de Cartier white gold bracelet with onyx, emer­alds and di­a­monds

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