SIDE BY SIDE… A SPARKLING STORY The tale of how Cartier’s daz­zling jew­ellery de­fined the spirit of the times on the pages of Bazaar

Vivi­enne Becker on how Cartier and Bazaar have gone hand in be­jew­elled hand through­out their daz­zling his­to­ries

Harper's Bazaar (UK) - - Contents -

On the strik­ing cover of the Novem­ber 1956 is­sue of US Harper’s Bazaar, an im­mac­u­lately man­i­cured fe­male hand, with long, slen­der fin­gers and cin­na­mon-pol­ished fin­ger­nails, reaches out to the reader hold­ing a note, promis­ing all man­ner of ‘New Riches’: fash­ion, furs, jew­els… Es­pe­cially, it seems, jew­els. Set against a stark black back­ground, the woman’s wrist is en­cir­cled by a dra­matic bracelet, a trail of smooth, oval coral beads, edged with di­a­monds. Each end is fin­ished with a sculpted gold and gem-set ram’s head, one with di­a­mond horns, the other with emer­alds. This ex­trav­a­gant jewel is a mas­ter­piece from Cartier New York, clearly in­spired by the ideas and imag­i­na­tion of Jeanne Tous­saint, the house’s leg­endary cre­ative di­rec­tor of jew­ellery from 1933 un­til 1970, when she re­tired at the age of 83.

Tous­saint’s in­flu­ence was and is still im­mense. Nick­named ‘La Pan­thère’, she gave life to Cartier’s pan­ther mo­tif, turn­ing it into an icon of 20th-cen­tury de­sign. She un­der­stood and even an­tic­i­pated the chang­ing ideals and val­ues of fem­i­nin­ity, and, as a strong, fiery and in­de­pen­dent ca­reer woman her­self, dis­tilled them, bril­liantly, into thrilling jew­els.

Vi­brant with colour, sculp­tural vol­ume and vi­vac­ity, un­der­pinned with mean­ing, cul­tural ref­er­ences and nar­ra­tive, they be­came a pow­er­ful ex­pres­sion of per­sonal style. No won­der that Bazaar, with Carmel Snow, an equally pow­er­ful and vi­sion­ary woman at the helm, found her work so ir­re­sistible; on an­other cover that same year, Au­drey Hep­burn is pic­tured in a black and white ze­bra-striped hat wear­ing lus­cious Cartier coral flower earclips.

But for me it is the ar­rest­ing graphic ef­fect of the ‘New Riches’ cover, the el­e­gance of the woman’s hand, the ‘dash of dar­ing’ pro­vided by the bracelet, that is the per­fect en­cap­su­la­tion of al­most a cen­tury of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Bazaar and Cartier. For both the leg­endary Parisian jew­eller and the mag­a­zine are founded on a pre­cious her­itage that en­shrines val­ues and drives in­spi­ra­tion, that is the im­pe­tus for ever-evolv­ing, rest­less in­no­va­tion and the cre­ation of beauty, whether in the form of a fash­ion mag­a­zine or as ex­quis­ite jew­ellery, watches and ob­jets d’art de­signed to cap­ture and re­flect a mo­ment in time…

Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by LouisFrançois Cartier; and by 1899, his en­trepreneurial grand­son Pierre was reg­u­larly vis­it­ing Lon­don to see clients who in­cluded the Duchess of Manch­ester and, a few years later, Queen Alexan­dra. De­scribed by Ed­ward VII as the ‘jew­eller of kings and king of jew­ellers’, Cartier catered to roy­alty, aris­toc­racy and high so­ci­ety – in­clud­ing the Hon Daisy Fel­lowes, Bazaar ’s Paris cor­re­spon­dent in the 1930s. Un­sur­pris­ingly, there­fore, Cartier pieces fea­tured reg­u­larly on the pages of the mag­a­zine from the late 1920s, both as ed­i­to­rial and in fash­ion shoots as well as ad­ver­tise­ments. In this mu­tu­ally cre­ative ex­change of ideas and in­spi­ra­tions, stim­u­lated by Cartier’s inim­itable style, Bazaar ’s fash­ion ed­i­tors used the jew­els to cre­ate mem­o­rable, of­ten iconic vi­sions of con­tem­po­rary fem­i­nin­ity. For the March 1931 is­sue, a fea­ture on day­time jew­els ad­vo­cated team­ing long turquoise flo­ral drop ear­rings with a clip pinned to a black tri­corne hat, and sug­gested that coral or­na­ments would work well with the ‘shrimp’ pink that was then all the rage. Cartier jew­els were also a vi­tal in­gre­di­ent in Bazaar’s cel­e­brated so­ci­ety por­traits: for the Fe­bru­ary 1932 is­sue, Baron de Meyer pho­tographed Mar­quise de Casa Maury wear­ing a spec­tac­u­lar di­a­mond rose ban­gle; in the fol­low­ing year, Bar­bara Hut­ton, one of Cartier’s most de­voted clients, posed for Bazaar in her tiara, and for June 1936, Man Ray pho­tographed the

De­scribed by Ed­ward VII as­the‘jew­eller of kings and king of jew­ellers’, Cartier catered to roy­alty and high so­ci­ety

Duchess of Wind­sor wear­ing a Main­bocher Chi­nese din­ner dress, her fa­mous cross charm bracelet, chart­ing the course of the royal ro­mance, just vis­i­ble un­der her sleeve. Here was ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ry­telling through jew­els and im­ages.

In 1934, Cartier tapped into Bazaar ’s so­ci­ety con­nec­tions with the So­cial Oc­ca­sions Se­ries of wit­tily evoca­tive il­lus­trated ad­ver­tise­ments, one a month, each de­pict­ing an as­pect of so­cial life, in­clud­ing ‘An En­gage­ment Re­cep­tion’, ‘Mummy Dresses for the Party’, ‘Some­whereon-Sea’ and ‘A Mar­riage has been Ar­ranged’. The so­ci­ety wed­ding, and how to nav­i­gate it in style, was mu­tu­ally fruit­ful ter­ri­tory. Bazaar cov­ered ev­ery as­pect of mar­i­tal dress­ing and eti­quette, while Cartier was the des­ti­na­tion for en­gage­ment rings, wed­ding jew­els and presents, which were al­ways on dis­play. As Eve­lyn Waugh re­ported in April 1938 in his ar­ti­cle ‘Wed­ding Presents’, these were among the prime at­trac­tions at any so­ci­ety nup­tials. In the same is­sue, a fea­ture en­ti­tled ‘For the Bride’ noted ‘the groom may choose his gift to the bride from any num­ber of places, but should Cartier be his happy hunt­ing ground, it will only be a ques­tion of which of the many jew­els to take!’ Sug­ges­tions in­cluded ‘en­chant­ing’ clips in gold, set with gems to look like flow­er­pots, enor­mous cab­bage roses, clus­ters of mixed blooms ‘à la Con­stance Spry’, and mono­chrome jew­els of black lac­quer and di­a­monds.

Through the 1930s, the ma­jes­tic tiara lit up Bazaar ’s pages, the ul­ti­mate sym­bol of fem­i­nine sta­tus. Cartier Lon­don ex­celled in the most dar­ing, ex­otic cre­ations, such as the ‘Si­amese’ one that curled around the ears, as pic­tured in a 1931 style com­men­tary by Baron de Meyer. Tiaras were oblig­a­tory, of course, for the 1937 Coro­na­tion, tak­ing pride of place among the 10,000 or so de­signs recorded in Cartier’s stock books. But from that time on, jew­ellery fash­ion be­gan to evolve, with a seis­mic shift away from cool, stream­lined plat­inum and di­a­monds to­wards huge, con­fi­dently ef­fer­ves­cent ‘cock­tail’ jew­els with sweeps and swirls of sun-yel­low gold stud­ded with coloured stones: wartime com­pro­mise made glam­orous. ‘Paris gives you chunky jew­ellery,’ Bazaar told read­ers in 1945, fea­tur­ing mod­els wear­ing chic Cartier pieces in­clud­ing a colos­sal stylised flower, pho­tographed by François Kol­lar; the Fe­bru­ary 1947 cover of Bazaar shows four cock­tail rings from Cartier Paris, each piled high with ab­stract ribbed, swirled or twisted yel­low gold, dot­ted with sap­phires and ru­bies, one de­signed as a sky­scraper in an ode to New York and its in­flu­ence on jew­ellery styles. In­side, the mag­a­zine cred­ited ‘the new al­ti­tudi­nous dimension for a ring and the hand that wears it’.

This look, con­fi­dent and forth­right, is echoed in today’s vi­brant, jaunty Cac­tus de Cartier col­lec­tion.

Dur­ing the 1950s, Bazaar worked with great pho­tog­ra­phers such as Richard Ave­don to cap­ture the essence of el­e­gant high jew­ellery, its re­fine­ment in­flu­enced by the new golden era of cou­ture. In 1951, a Cartier di­a­mond neck­lace de­scribed as a ‘glacial river of di­a­monds’ was rec­om­mended as a way of thor­oughly ‘ic­ing’ the most de­li­cious even­ing dresses, while the maison’s ex­pres­sive di­a­mond brooches pro­vided the ‘daz­zle’ in iconic fash­ion shoots, their ex­u­ber­ant, lilt­ing leaves, flow­ers and swirling clus­ters pinned onto ex­quis­ite gowns by Worth or Main­bocher, the brooches of­ten worn in pairs and in un­ex­pected places, the back, shoul­der, waist, or on ei­ther side of a neck­line, punc­tu­at­ing soignée so­phis­ti­ca­tion with a dash of scin­til­lat­ing au­dac­ity. At the same time, in 1953, the work­shops of Cartier Lon­don were putting the fin­ish­ing touches to a sub­lime di­a­mond flower brooch cre­ated for the newly crowned El­iz­a­beth II, which cen­tred on the stag­ger­ingly rare and beau­ti­ful Wil­liamson pink di­a­mond, a gift from the owner of the mine in Tan­za­nia where it was un­earthed. The brooch, still one of Her Majesty’s favourite jew­els, makes an ap­pear­ance as a mod­est en­try in the Cartier stock books for that year.

Flora gave way to fauna; by the 1960s, the mag­a­zine’s pages were alive with charis­matic char­ac­ter­ful crea­tures, from Cartier’s iconic preda­tory pan­ther to marinethemed jew­els, fea­tured in May 1968 and sig­nalling a fig­u­ra­tive style reprised for decades to come.

In the 1970s, Cartier’s mas­ter­ful moder­nity was rooted in New York, in the trail­blaz­ing de­signs of Aldo Cip­ullo, the cre­ator of the Love ban­gle and Juste un Clou, the rev­o­lu­tion­ary, an­drog­y­nous hard­ware ‘day­time or any­time’ jew­els, that pul­sated with the beat of Stu­dio 54, and were per­fectly in tune with so­cial, cul­tural and artis­tic, youth­fuelled re­bel­lion. Both de­signs are now en­joy­ing a re­vival, fit­ting with today’s gen­der­fluid mood and rein­vig­o­rated with new it­er­a­tions.

Look­ing through the ar­chives at Cartier and Bazaar, it is il­lu­mi­nat­ing to see how that cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion con­tin­ued to thrive, as the two brands re­sponded to and, in­deed, fore­saw the dra­matic changes in the way in which their fe­male clien­tele dressed, worked, dreamt and lived their lives.

Over the decades, the fo­cus for both shifts from roy­alty and aris­toc­racy to mod­ern mer­i­toc­racy and a new client: a multi­task­ing work­ing woman. Cartier’s dy­namic ‘bou­tique’ con­cept, Les Must, launched in the mid­Sev­en­ties to ap­peal to this new breed: the Lon­don Must bou­tique, at the back of the Bond Street store, was her­alded as a ‘breath of youth on Albe­marle Street’. On the same taboo­break­ing path, in the post­fem­i­nist 1980s, Bazaar ac­ces­sorised denim with dra­matic Cartier jew­els that women could buy for them­selves, and chan­nelled Nineties min­i­mal­ism into the pared­down, essen­tial pu­rity of the di­a­mond. In De­cem­ber 1992, Bazaar ex­plained how di­a­monds were no longer a ‘means to daz­zle’ but more a ‘pri­vate plea­sure’, to be worn with the same ease, com­fort and fa­mil­iar­ity as a favourite sweater, il­lus­trat­ing the point with a shoot fea­tur­ing stacked Cartier di­a­mond bracelets. Cartier jew­els adapted, chameleon­like, to fea­tures and pho­to­shoots high­light­ing trends from street style, through to satin slip even­ing dresses, to the rap­per’s gold bling, un­til the new mil­len­nium ush­ered in an age of megagems and the rise of the cou­ture spirit of high­jew­ellery col­lec­tions, richly lay­ered with cul­tural ref­er­ences, alive with sto­ry­telling, show­cas­ing the world’s rarest, most in­trigu­ing and at­trac­tive gem­stones and cel­e­brat­ing the art of crafts­man­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s im­age, style and her­itage di­rec­tor, the brand uses its own rich his­tory not as a ‘model’ to be im­i­tated, but as a pre­cious store of val­ues, a sin­gle vi­sion, a liv­ing visual lan­guage to be con­tin­u­ally en­riched, rein­ter­preted and con­tem­po­rised, for each new gen­er­a­tion, each shift and evolv­ing mood. Cartier has in­stinc­tively un­der­stood that jew­els are and have al­ways been a barom­e­ter of fem­i­nin­ity and the most pow­er­ful ex­pres­sion of in­di­vid­u­al­ity and per­sonal style, in the same way that Bazaar has mir­rored mod­ern wom­an­hood, told their sto­ries and en­larged their bound­aries. Their con­nec­tion is price­less.

Man Ray pho­tographed the Duchess of Wind­sor for Bazaar in 1936 – ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ry­telling through jew­els and im­ages

Top: a Cartier bracelet on the Novem­ber 1956 cover. Above: an il­lus­tra­tion of Cartier jew­ellery from March 1931. Right: Man Ray’s shot of the Duchess of Wind­sor from June 1936

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