Published on June 11th, 2012 | by Aeris0
L’ODYSSÉE DE CARTIER: THE MEANING BEHIND THE MOVIE
By now, many of us have seen the brand-defining Cartier film, L’Odyssée de Cartier, marking the brands 165 year anniversary – but what do the glittering glimpses of different places and times, with the muse of a panther, really mean?
Immediately, we see that the protagonist is a beautiful panther, and may be fooled into believing this is a novel marketing trend. But Cartier’s affinity with beasts dates back to as early as 1933, with Cartier’s Artistic Director at that time, Jeanne Toussaint.
“She embodied a type of feminine elegance which is very assertive and independent,” explains Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s Image, Style and Heritage Director. As a result, she was nicknamed “La Panthere” by her colleagues and friends.
Defying jewelry conventions, Toussaint inspired her world at the time and created the first-ever figurative jewelry. She pioneered playful jewelry inspired by botany and animals, creating the first panther brooch in 1948, which was sold to the Duchess of Windsor.
For the first time in history, jewelry was brought to life by untamed nature and associated with freedom rather than constraint (e.g. wedding rings which traditionally symbolized ‘taken property’).
Royalty was also a critical influence upon Cartier, as the jeweler to have served over 15 kings and queens between 1900-1930, it soon became the most well known among royalty worldwide. In the film, the panther is observed by the Russian Queen, Maria Pavlovna, reflecting the brand’s early recognition amongst the old Russian aristocracy.
Thirdly, we see the imagery that reflects the critical influence that Cartier drew from other cultures, particularly Chinese and Islamic. In the short film, the panther lunges determinedly through Cartier’s 1970s love bracelets, only to come face to face with a gold dragon with emerald eyes, representing the coming together of Chinese and French culture. The Dragon decides to let it pass and transforms into the Great Wall, symbolizing Cartier’s early ascent into China in 1990, before most other luxury brands had the confidence to take such a bold chance on China’s potential.
When the panther arrives in a Mughal palace in North India, it enters a magical menagerie of glittering peacocks, crocodiles, doves and snakes, of emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Their colours are not merely coincidental, symbolizing the iconic ‘green-blue’ combination that Cartier introduced to the western jewelry world, drawing upon Islamic fashion contrary to the widespread Western belief that ‘blue and green should never be seen.’ Thus as Rainero notes: “These inspirations run deeper than French or Western culture alone.”
Lastly, we see the influence that a defining and truly inspirational industry had upon Cartier: the aviation industry. When the pioneer aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, told his friend, Louis Cartier, about the impracticality of using pocket watches while flying, Cartier fashioned a more practical watch. It was a flat watch, which Santos could wear around his wrist –and so the world’s first men’s wristwatch was born.
Nothing in this short film is trivial or irrelevant to the brand’s history (from 1847 to the present), but rather, genuinely symbolic of it. In my view, this is what makes it so clever. Inspired by the assertive elegance its former Artistic Director, Mademoiselle Toussaint (“La Panthere”), by royalty, by freedom found in travel and even by flying itself – Cartier was inspired by the world he knew.
And in turn, he has inspired the world he left behind…
Inspire your world. AERIS
*Images Copyright of Cartier
For the Cartier Anniversary film, visit:
For the Pierre Rainero Interview on L’Odyssée de Cartier, visit:
Author: Grace Brown and Caroline Gui