Cartier unveils jewelled blossoms
Invitation-only guests at the Vista Hall in the W Seoul hotel in eastern Seoul were greeted by a Cartier-red foyer featuring wall-size images of sensual blossoms ― a profusion of diamonds in white, pink and canary.
The drink du jour was Veuve Clicquot rose. Between flowing curtains, alternating with cabernet-red velvet and organza, four rooms revealed Cartier’s new and more feminine collection, inspired by the brand’s own Art Deco designs of 1925.
The central pieces introduced to Korea were an orchid pendant made with 16-carat pave diamonds and large rubylights, also known as pink tourmaline, and its matching ring; others included simplified and casual versions made from white and yellow gold.
The mood of opulence extended to the ruby-colored lounge and stage in the adjacent hall. There, tiny sushi rolls, caviar and duck breast on a bed of fresh roses were served on trays circulated by waitresses and on buffet tables at the side of the lounge ― a casual but still elegant approach, perhaps to appeal to Seoul’s trendsetters who are used to lavish launch parties at the W Hotel.
But, when Korean and Taiwanese models in plain dresses danced awkwardly in the distance wearing “can-we-see-them?” diamonds, the audience began to yawn and whispered, “What happened to multi-screens?”
The night’s highlight, singing and dancing circa 1990 Backstreet Boy-style by Taiwanese male performers, drove “been-there, seen-that” industry professionals and VIPs, who are far from average when it comes to style (avant garde!), taste (haute!) and patience (non!), to leave for fresh air and better entertainment for the weekend. In high fashion, things Taiwan simply don’t work in Korea.
Q. A flight between Taipei and Seoul takes about two hours, doesn’t it?
A. I’ve traveled between London and Paris before, which is only a two-and-a-half hour flight, but traveling between Taiwan and Korea is much harder, because in Europe the trip takes you from downtown London to downtown Paris, but in Asia, there’s no direct train ride, and the flights can take more than seven hours; often nearly all day is spent [on traveling]. Unlike Korea where I have a daily operator, like Thierry [Marty, sales & marketing director], I don’t have a No. 2 man in Taiwan. Over the past year, I’ve been in Seoul more than in Taiwan, actually.
How did you get to join Cartier?
I lived in Hong Kong working for Lancome in the L’Oreal group. I knew a few Cartier people there, and one day I met the president of Cartier who offered me a position in Taiwan, and I accepted. I’ve been with Cartier for four-and-a-half years, but because there are so many people who have been with Cartier for a long, long time, I feel I’m quite new here.
Did you own any Cartier before you joined the company?
My taste is classic ― look at my watch, a simple Tank ― so I had liked Cartier while growing up, although I didn’t own anything from Cartier until I got to work [there]. I own a few watches that are all gifts; one of them is a Breitling, a gift from the president of Cartier. I also own a Patek Philippe from my grandfather.
What’s your plan for Cartier Korea?
I will renovate and upgrade all the Cartier stores in Korea. All stores should be like the Cartier store in the Aveneul [department store], which offers visitors a memorable experience. A Cartier store is divided into a few areas where customers can navigate the brand’s heritage and the various lines.
A jewelry store has to have a feeling of being precious, luxurious and intimidating ―not too much but just a bit so that the feeling can give a piece of jewelry a higher status ― and also a sense of rarity from the way only a few pieces in one case are displayed. The Cartier store design reflects just that ― onyx walls and bronze frames over curved glass and a some wooden frames to add a touch of warmth. Bruno Moinard, who is the principal designer, has done all Cartier’s stores around the world.
You got married recently.
Yes, I’m married to Amelie, a French woman, and we’re expecting a boy in August.
by Ines Cho