You are probably a woman, aged between twenty and forty. You are in a taxi and you see it for the first time on a billboard near the airport, or in an advert at the cinema before the film starts. You see an actress wearing it, in a magazine you don’t find particularly interesting, while you are waiting to board and again a week later in the waiting room at the opticians – nothing to it really so far; sure, you have noticed it, but you haven’t really taken it in – even though the letters forming the word now have a ring to them.
You see it in a newspaper you bought at the kiosk because it’s a paper you respect and you are almost in awe of – now it raises an eyebrow. You start noticing it on the arms of people you like or envy, while they are talking to someone you would like to be talking to – and no, all of those silly little kids you consider below you don’t have one. Conversely, you realize one of your mother’s friends, a woman who commands respect, has one on her wrist and she lets you try it on. When you see men wearing them, the process is quite advanced: first it’s your gay friend who you’ll never end up in bed with, but who you find virile nevertheless. Then it’s that young guy too who you know you’ll fall for, sooner or later. A raised eyebrow, the slack mouth – and you thought it was just a passing fad.
It happens with a leather jacket by Saint Laurent like it did with a Barbour or an Aspesi jacket in Milan, or with a Burberry – or like those colorful sneakers by Balenciaga last year. It’s fashion phenomenology in this consumer society of ours from Los Angeles to Tokyo – everywhere bar the Pacific Ocean simply because of the lack of cities. When it happens with jewelry, the effect gains it maximum power. The price has to be high, but not unattainable, let’s say around the five thousand Euro mark. The game is easier with jewelry – Cartier wins the match.
The Maison has remained solid in its placement, outrunning the almost exhausted age of the digital bubble. It didn’t become too democratic, involving popular youngsters assuming the sexy poses of a diva in self-satisfying selfies – and today, the proof is there: compared to its competitors, Cartier is at the top, a benchmark in terms of sales and perception. When a brand is solid and coherent, the management naturally wants to exploit its strength – it’s a business after all, whose main aim is make money: stores receive jewelry to sell to people, as we said, at accessible prices. Cartier – for affairs of the heart, a birthday, Christmas, graduation – it probably seems too good to be true for most people to be able to afford to give or receive that red box with the golden garland that makes hearts race, a vanity and gratitude generating comments alluding to the Duchess of Windsor and the many dollars spent. Until recently, only Love was capable of provoking these considerations, a golden armband opening with a screw, symbolizing the solidity of one’s affection – pampered girls would wear two or three at the same time, even though one tends to suppose in love there is only room for one. Love made its mark and still does – and the team spirit continues to win the match every time.
Jewelry and design: Clash de Cartier strides onto the court in a tournament of desire and possession that could bring us to question the fundamentals of our society (but let’s not wander off the point). Clash makes a new mark for Cartier, it is the trump card, chosen after who knows how much research, study, and market trials. A mark that reclaims elements from past collections, bringing them together in a clash, like an infatuation in an image by Daniele Desperati: beads, how small they are, first appeared as cabochon sapphires on a ring designed for Daisy Fellowes in the 1920s; round-based studs, like Dadaist cones, taken from Picot designed at the start of the new millennium; pyramids that marked the corners of the square traveling clock in 1928. Geometrical elements, cones, pyramids and balls, bound together with the violence of gold and fire to create a track: a medieval chain supporting a drawbridge, securing an anchor at sea, defending Andromeda in Greek legend – a chain in any case, a symbol of tension and union, a link that strengthens and holds firm the base and the return – this is Clash by Cartier, like a rhythm & blues verse repeated by Whitney Houston it would take an eternity to break us, and the chain of Amistad couldn’t hold us – the song was called My Love is Your Love, obviously.
The poetry of conflict for Clash – we can hazard a literary level for this dedication to Cartier, without careless and awkward flattery. Opposites attract, they said and we say – in the vaults on the ground floor of the Conciergerie where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned before being taken to the guillotine, a table seating three hundred stretches down the length of the room, decorated with red flowers and redcurrants like coral or bloody rubies. The queen stepping up to the gallows, Billy Idol on stage. Monica Bellucci versus Sofia Coppola, Tilda Swinton versus Beth Ditto – this clash is not a war, but places at the table, one opposite the other. Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Rami Malek. A sip of tea versus a flute of champagne, Beethoven versus the Sex Pistols. A book about Piqué intarsia, turtle shell and mother of pearl, versus vinyls that are no longer played but continue to mark the end.