Debra Healy starts her Walk around Place Vendôme and Rue de la Paix by a historical analysis of Cartier. She shows the great consistency of the brand - which she relates to the work done on the brand's heritage and by the existence of an artistic director.
Today Cartier is Part of the Richemont group. Any brand astute enough to appoint a director of image, style, and heritage understands fully who they are, what they own, where the value is, and how to tell their story. They understand how to communicate this with every product, advertisement, store window, packaging, exhibitions, catalogs and numerous books.
Cartier was founded in 1847 by Louis François Cartier. His three grandson's Louis (1875-1942), Pierre (1878-1965), and Jacques (1884-1942), developed the firm into a distinguished international jeweler, watchmaker, and clockmaker.
Cartier's 4 major innovations:
- Cartier was a trend setter not a style follower.
- In 1898-1899 Louis Cartier decided to set up an in-house design studio. Cartier did not create jewels in the Art Nouveau style. During this period they were known for the most elegant platinum and diamond jewels in the neo-classical and Louis XVI-revival styles, or as it is now referred to, the garland-style.
- Cartier led the way with luxury wrist watches. As early as 1888 they offered ornamental ladies wrist watches, this concept really took off after 1904.
- The three brothers were joined by Jeanne Toussaint. Her influence was profound, she was eventually appointed director of fine jewelry in 1933. Jeanne Toussaint was not an artisan or an artist. She was very chic, and had an unerring eye for style. She was a brilliant design analyst who could articulate what worked and what didn't. She directed her designers and craftsmen to create remarkable jewels.
Jeanne Toussaint is credited with creating the concept for Cartier's famous great cat jewels:
Audrey Hepburn (here in Harper's Bazaar 1953) is wearing these Cartier coral, diamond, and platinum coffee beans earrings which were developed by Jeanne Toussaint who was the artistic director until the firm left family hands in the 1960's.
When Cartier was sold the the three branches were split-up, each with a different owner.
In 1972 a group on investors lead by Joseph Kanoui and Robert Hocq who was the president of Cartier Paris, started the reacquisition of Cartier. Robert Hocq and Alain Dominique Perrin developed the global marketing concept Les Musts de Cartier with its associated line of products. The three original branches, Paris, London and New York were reunited and merged with Les Musts de Cartier in 1976.
A major move to building heritage: the Cartier Collection
In 1983 an initiative was started by the late Eric Nussbaum to re-acquire the best pieces ever made by Cartier.
Each addition to the Cartier collection is thoroughly researched and given its original number form the well maintained archives. This collection today numbers over 1360 pieces. The collection illustrates the evolution of the dynamic Cartier style. It contains jewelry, tiaras, accessories, objet d’art, boxes, smoking accessories, horology, and watches. Everything and anything from jewels, toys to tools, even a playful gold yoyo, and can opener!
No other jewelry or watch brand has so assiduously studied their heritage. They have analyzed the evolution of their style, identified the iconic products. and evolved methods of new product development that are relevant and appealing. They have developed a communication strategy that is superbly integrated and coherent. A Cartier product is known for unsurpassed quality, it is instantly recognizable, timeless, distinctive, and highly differentiated. It takes a great deal of knowledge and experience to "read archives", and to analyze and evaluate their collection. The understanding of where the brand came from, and how to draw on that heritage to continue to develope in a modern context is the job of Pierre Rainero artistic, image, strategy, and heritage director. He has been with Cartier for 27 years since 1984. With a background in advertising and marketing. One could say he now holds the memories and articulates them with perfect pitch. This enables him to make the necessary design decisions like Jeanne Toussaint did in the past, he is responsible for "le goût Cartier".
" My role is to take a decision based not on my personal taste but a frame of mind which, for decades has been steeped in Cartier's savoir-faire" Pierre Rainero .
An integral part of their heritage discovery has been an important series of world-wide exhibitions, along with the exhibition catalogs, and gorgeous illustrated books. Working with acknowledged scholars in the field, these exhibitions have also been very important because they serve to forge a connection between the local populations and Cartier, weather it is in China, Russia, Europe, or America. The exhibitions have lifted the perception of Cartier's creations, elevating them to a level worthy of being shown in world-class museums.These exhibitions have successfully generated a growing awareness kindling desire in a new generation of global customers. They do this by telling the brand's "story" one iconic product at a time. Cartier knows better than anyone that every jewel tells a story.
With each successive exhibition their knowledge and competence has grown along with their ability to communicate, manage, and develop Cartier in the 21st Century.
On rue de la Paix the Cartier windows are elegant. They seamlessly communicate the brand's heritage. The pallet is sophisticated, subtly suggesting the finest art deco interiors.
Cartier continues to be a world leader in fine watches as well as jewelry. The Richemont group is a smart learning organization, they are continually leveraging their accumulated knowledge, expertise, and resources.