The “Cartier and Women” Exhibition Echoes The Importance of Women’s Influences

Cartier and Women

Through an illustrative and theatrical spectacle, Cartier is echoing the importance of women’s influence.

Jewellery has always been perpetually engaged with the past. Nowhere is that more evident than at Cartier, where the Maison is actively working in creating dialogues with their history, archives, and female influences. Their quest for crafting perfect silhouettes has led the Maison to create some of the most iconic and recognisable designs in the world. 

To celebrate the history of women and jewellery, Cartier has assembled their most iconic collection – a harmony between the classics and the new emblematic of the Cartier experience – under one roof. Illuminating the substantial collection of archival jewellery and accessories, their new exhibition titled “Cartier And Women” will allow visitors to trace and learn about women’s influences and power by meandering through the curved walls of the exhibition. Celebrating an infinite vast of creative imagination, the “Cartier And Women” exhibition will warrant both the attention of fashion darlings and art lovers alike. 

Cartier and Women

We recently chatted with the Image, Style, and Heritage Director of Cartier, Pierre Rainero about the “Cartier And Women” exhibition. 

Tell us a little bit about the “Cartier And Women” exhibition.

The “Cartier And Women Exhibition” is a jewellery exhibition at The Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM). The exhibition does a beautiful job of drawing out the role and influence of women in Cartier’s history that were in the air at the time of some of Cartier’s most iconic creations. This exhibition features approximately 300 stunning treasures created by Cartier, including jewellery, timepieces, precious objects, accessories, and archival records from the 19th century to the present day. 

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Cartier and Women

Can you tell me more about the themes of the Cartier and Women exhibition? 

The exhibition takes us through an evolution of the latent theme of creative and assertive feminity. Paying homage to the progression of women, the space has the essence of empowerment. 

Divided into four thematic sections, “Cartier And Women” reflects Cartier’s deep connections with many influential women throughout history and in the present day. The first, “Royal and Aristocratic Women: Elegance and Prestige”, celebrates the significant role that royal and elite women played in the early history of Cartier in the 19th century. The second section, “New Women: Breaking with Tradition”, examines advances in jewellery design that reflected women’s emancipation. The third section, “Inquisitive Women: Cross-cultural Inspirations” focuses on the influence of art from China and other parts of the world that enlivened Cartier’s creations for women. The fourth and final section, “Influential Women: Glamorous Legends”, explores the close relationship between Cartier jewellery and modern and contemporary female icons. 

You will be able to see pieces from the collections of the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Lin and Carina Lau, and Pansy Ho.

What was the process like in selecting the jewellery for the exhibition? 

The curation process was mostly handled by the museum. Our role as the Maison was merely to open our doors and showcase our best archival pieces, their availability, and the stories that fit the curator’s narratives. With a longstanding history, we were lucky enough to be able to share immense knowledge and beautiful objects. 

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What are the star pieces for the exhibition that you could share and highlight?

As you walk through the exhibition, each section has a beautiful object that illustrates the theme tremendously. 

But, I’d say it would have to be Princess Marie Bonaparte’s tiara. This tiara was originally a comb to be placed at the back of the head or be worn as a bandeau, but in 1912 we modified it to be worn as a tiara. This piece was part of Princess Marie Bonaparte’s trousseau for her wedding to Prince George of Greece and Denmark in 1907. 

The next one would have to be the Bib Necklace. This necklace was a special order from the Duke of Windsor for the Duchess of Windsor – this was the time when it was important for society to express taste. 

For The Influential Women: Glamorous Legends section, I’d pick the engagement ring of Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly. It’s an anecdote about love, which makes it even more special. 

What aspects of Chinese history are significantly connected to Cartier?

Cartier was among the first Western Maison to be interested in Chinese culture and one of the first Westerners to propose the use of Jade in our jewellery designs. That’s why the necklace of Barbara Hutton is very interesting. She received a Cartier Jadeite necklace as a wedding gift from her husband Russian Prince Alexi Mdivani in 1933. Jadeite has been a beloved symbol of wealth and status in Chinese decorative art. So, to have a craftsmanship of twenty-seven matching beads was strikingly beautiful. 

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What was the most challenging thing about creating this exhibition? 

It would be the inability to focus on tons of themes. It was challenging trying to focus on choosing the perfect narrative to tell. The feminine link between women and jewellery is so rich and deep, so it was tough stopping ourselves from going in too many directions. All these pieces of jewellery have their own story to tell – detailings, power, and motive – so we had to learn to focus on storytelling efficiently. 

What was the best part about creating the exhibition?

The exhibition is a showcase, so it was exciting to convey our intellectual knowledge about women and jewellery and create something that provoked a reaction and emotion among people. Since we’re dealing with beautiful archival objects, it was nice to be able to highlight and share the idea of beauty. 

What do you hope people take away from this exhibition?

We want them to be able to see the overwhelming beauty of the objects and the evolution of women through jewellery. We hope people get well-educated about the new content, analysis, and structure. 

“Cartier And Women” is a showcase of the Maison’s ability to design and create objects that not only stand the test of time but will continue to innovate well into the future. The exhibition will be open to the public in Gallery 8 of the HKPM until 14 August 2023. 

Book your tickets here.

All photos courtesy of Cartier

A lover of steamy romance books and all things green, Syameen Salehaldin is the Senior Content Producer for Harper's BAZAAR Malaysia. She spends most of her time immersed in books, and food and doing anything that makes her happy. Expect to see her diving into lifestyle, fashion and beauty trends on this platform.