In conversation with Sophie Doireau, Managing Director at Cartier Middle East, about the fine line between innovation and history
It’s not unusual for things to be described with diametrically opposed values. A silhouette is bold yet understated, the vibes, edgy yet feminine, creating an overall look which is raw yet elegant. With Cartier’s Clash de Cartier fine jewellery collection, it’s precisely this duality and polarity that is pushed to the forefront and celebrated, for a creation which has attitude and elegance in spades.
Clash de Cartier shakes up the Maison’s aesthetic heritage of studs, beads, and clous carrés. Combined, they form a singular, ribbed mesh which becomes Cartier’s new jewellery signature, imaginatively conceived in the Cartier design studios. Here we speak to Sophie Doireau to understand the collection which is laced with attitude and underpinned by architectural ingenuity, and how getting the right balance between the storied history of the Maison and a new generation is imperative when creating timeless icons.
Tell us about the timelessness of jewellery and the memories it can hold?
Jewellery can be passed on to other generations. You buy a piece of jewellery and your daughter will be very happy to wear it in later years. Working at Cartier for me is timeless. When you look at the Love collection you don’t know that it was created 40 years ago and when you look at Panthère you don’t realise that it was created 100 years ago. What we say is collections created today are treasures of tomorrow. We are the guardians. This is the raison d’être, the sense of Cartier for me.
What impresses you the most about Cartier?
The craftsmanship for me is the history. We are 170 years old, and we have so many stories in history. We have the three brothers, Louis, Pierre and Jacques Cartier who are grandsons of the founder of the House, and for me what is striking about them is that they were pioneers and visionaries. They could have stayed in Paris in the atelier, but they were very curious and wanted to travel all around the world to collect gemstones. This is the spirit that we want keep at Cartier, and we try to perpetuate this tradition of curiosity and open-mindedness.
How has the jewellery market changed over the last decade?
We have certainly seen a change in the luxury market. The young generation don’t only want to buy things, it’s not just about purchasing for them, it’s about the experience. That’s why at Cartier we have these stories and we use them to share an experience.
Do you think this leads to purchases?
I am sure. At Cartier we give a background to what we sell. We sell creations for occasions, so it’s something you buy for a gift, for a wedding, for yourself, so you need to be able to understand and explain the piece.
Do you think women are increasingly buying for themselves these days?
Yes, I am sure. I think it is very good and it gives a sense of achievement. I am proud I can offer myself a creation.
Tell us about the new Clash de Cartier collection?
This is the brand new Cartier signature collection, and it is amazing. What is great is how for the first time you can see the craftsmanship, on the top, on the underside, something you cannot see in the market, it’s really recognisable. What is important is that it’s launched as a full collection at the beginning. So, you have the necklace, the bracelet, the ring, and earrings, available in pavé and non-pavé. It has this agility, it seems spiky but at the same time it is soft. When you see that from afar you have the impression that it is minimal but at the same time it is very refined and requires lots of know how.
Why is it important to continue adding to the Cartier collection portfolio?
It is important of course to have these bold designs which are part of our history, but equally it is crucial to launch some pieces. It is about finding the right balance. We are very lucky at Cartier to have so many different collections, and it is good to enrich them.
Do you think a collection like Clash is targeted towards attracting new clients and a new generation or to satisfy the older clientele?
Both. In terms of the new generation the price point has been well received, and it is something that can be worn on a daily basis, yet at the same time there are more statement options with diamonds that are a better fit for other clients.
Cartier is very popular in the region, can you tell us why you think this is?
I think it is historically because Jacques Cartier came to the region for pearls and gemstones staying for a few weeks in 1912 when there was nobody here. He visited Bahrain, Dubai, and Oman staying with the inhabitants of these countries and living their lives, coming back with the pearls that he was looking for together with much more. This is why Islamic Art is at the centre, because it dates back to this period of time. We share this historical link and his pioneering spirit through the many pictures in our archives.
Do different collections sell better at different times of the year?
No, our pieces aren’t seasonal as we have such a wide range of creations, so whether it’s for the day or night, a daily basis or special occasion, you can find whatever you want.
Are there habits or trends in buying in the region?
Stacking is a tradition so certainly a trend in the region, which is perfect for Cartier. For men, accessories are very important, because on their dish dash they wear a pen and cufflinks and at Cartier we have a wide range of accessories.
Do you think Clash will have some cufflinks?
For the moment it is not planned but you never know. Of course, Clash is meant to be a feminine collection, but we have a fine balance, we know that our essence is a feminine brand but at the same time we have developed our men’s collection.
Who is the future Cartier customer?
Bold and daring people that are looking for uniqueness, savoir faire, quality and looking for creations that are timeless which they will keep for their entire life
- Interviewed by Mojeh Izadpanah