Cartier’s Le Voyage Recommence Collection Is A High Jewellery Masterclass

5 min read

Cartier’s latest high jewellery offering, Le Voyage Recommencé, is both a dreamy and, at times, enigmatic homage to the house’s codes and a picture-perfect choice for the season of splendours ahead. MOJEH embarks on a journey of discovery through the regal hillsides of Tuscany

Imagine freeing yourself from everything that is static — letting go of the structures and pillars that bind. This is the feat achieved in the creation of the Sama necklace. White gold and diamonds unfurl and cascade away from a 19.27-carat Ceylon sapphire, as blue as the lapping waves of the deepest sea. The striking sensation of motion is discovered through a swirling series of curves and counter-curves, making the wearer appear limitless, both physically and spiritually. Similarly, through the Voltea set in rose gold, coral beads, onyx and diamonds, graphic shapes pulsate away from one another, creating a symphony in stones.

On a recent trip to Florence and the rolling hillsides that surround it, we encountered Cartier’s latest haute offering, Le Voyage Recommencé, or ‘the journey started over again.’ “High jewellery is not a destination; it’s a never-ending journey. It’s a perpetual reinvention, always with the obsession of respecting Cartier’s style,” explains Arnaud Carrez, Cartier’s senior VP and chief marketing officer. “However, Cartier’s style is not static. We have multiple styles, resembling a living language with new vocabulary, angles and perspectives. In this collection, it’s a fresh exploration of the foundational traditional themes of Cartier.”

Villa Reale di Marlia in Tuscany housed the collection’s unveiling, in rooms adorned with baroque paintings

That much is true. Set against the backdrop of the newly-restored 19th century Villa Reale di Marlia, the former residence of Napoleon’s sister Elisa in Lucca situated about a 90-minute drive from Florence, the collection and each of its new and old intricacies were unveiled. Iconic elements like Panthère and Tutti Frutti appeared, but through shapes that were never too literal or expected. The latter and its medley of ostentatious stones — often sapphire, rubies and emeralds — are reimagined through Tutti Frutti Gadisar, a secret watch. “Tutti Frutti is nice and interesting because it shows this never-ending appetite for pushing the boundaries of creativity, and you see each piece is very different from another one and at the same time very consistent; it’s always recognisable,” says Carrez. The Panthère, on the other hand, comes to life in the Givrée necklace, where onyx and diamonds form the upper body of the feline, later dissipating into a flurry of cascading aquamarines, evoking an image of the animal charging across an ice-laden land. It’s this combination of nature and abstraction that makes Cartier high jewellery so appealing across generations. Is it ice, or is it the sky? It’s left to the auspicious wearer to decide.

The purity of lines, the balance of shapes and volumes, the play of proportions, and magnificent stones — we gushed over everything that we’ve come to love about Cartier. As with the Sama and Voltea pieces, there was a running narrative of expressive gestures — things that are otherwise intangible, the designers somehow made physical. In the Ondule ring, one 0.92-carat grey-violet diamond is encircled by half-moon diamonds, contributing to an ethereal halo-like effect. And in the Moonbow necklace, emeralds, opals, and sapphires capture the optical phenomenon through a flurry of stones.

“This collection is a great opportunity to delve into the essential themes of Cartier style, to explore them in greater depth, take a fresh look at them, nurtured by the spirit of the time, approaching them with a contemporary eye to go further,” said Jacqueline Karachi, the director of high jewellery creation. In nurturing the spirit of the time, the considerably beautiful Villa Reale di Marlia could not have provided a better backdrop. Dazzling jewels were showcased inside newly restored rooms wild with original baroque paintings and billowing flower arrangements, while the sprawling gardens were perfectly manicured, if not for the raucous army of Cartier butlers ferrying guests from the villa to the lake littered with miniature Cartier sailboats, and back again.

Onyx and diamonds form the upper body of the feline in the Panthere Givrée necklace

Lunch was served overlooking the water, with a characterful table setting featuring napkins and plates delicately painted with butterflies, cheetahs, and flora and fauna — components that are often used as inspiration at the Maison. “Beauty is one of the founding elements of high jewellery. There is a permanent exploration of beauty wherever it may lie around us,” shares Carrez.

The voyage did not end at Villa Reale. Later that day, CEO Cyrille Vigneron hosted guests, including ambassadors and friends of the house, at Florence’s Giardino Corsini. Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani rubbed shoulders with Egyptian actor Tara Emad, while celebrities such as Elle Fanning, Riley Keough and Vanessa Kirby mingled in the estate’s spectacular gardens. Fresh but eclectic — the guest list was as diverse as the dresses on show and the haute jewels on the runway. Kirby wore a cocktail-inspired McQueen dress, simple and very modern, while Fanning showcased a tulle number by Chanel, complete with a traditional 1960s hairstyle. Emad, on the other hand, stole the show with a floor-sweeping peacock-blue gown. Outfits may have traversed time and genres but as expected, the common thread was Le Voyage. Keough chose an Asian-inspired set, the Fota, boasting coral and obsidian, traditional to the Chinese aesthetic.While Farahani celebrated pieces inspired by Islamic art, a founding theme of Cartier’s style. For the men, brooches were worn with aplomb. French actor Stephane Bak opted for a ruby, citrine and diamond firework-style piece that exploded across the lapel of his silk jacket, while American actor Adrien Brody — who later took to the decks as Cartier’s resident DJ in an unexpected twist — donned an owl motif set with fierce emerald eyes.

Jewel of the region and friend of the house, Tara Emad

“Classic and audacious,” is how Cyrille Vigneron described the collection. Away from the gemstones and diamonds, this was best symbolised by the choice of English singer-songwriter and rapper Labrinth, who provided the evening’s entertainment with an emotive live set underneath a rain-washed sky. “Cartier is a Maison that is always in tune with its time. It has a very strong awareness and an understanding of its past, and at the same time, the past is not perceived as static; it is constantly enriched,”shared Carrez. “It’s a Maison in motion; it is deeply grounded in the present time, but at the same time, we are not a fashion brand, so we are not obsessed by short-term cycles. Especially when it comes to high jewellery, time is very long.”

This idea of looking to the past while also staying relevant to current times is at the heart of Cartier’s high jewellery, a unique realm epitomised by one-of-a-kind pieces made with the most exceptional stones. Tuscany, where the Renaissance started 600 years ago, was the perfect setting for Le Voyage Recommencé, a collection that breathes new life into an already storied House. Explore the collection

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  • Words by Kelly Baldwin