It would only be fitting that Cartier, the world’s most legendary jeweler, would throw a legendary party to celebrate the re-opening of its Fifth Avenue Mansion. Last night, at a scintillating soirée held in the heart of Manhattan, the Cartier Mansion opened its doors for the first time after a two-and-a-half-year renovation overseen by renowned architect Thierry Despont (whose name you might recognize as the mastermind also behind the re-opening of the Ritz Paris).
In an interview earlier in the day, Cartier CEO Cyrille Vigneron shared with Savoir Flair, “At the company, we needed to both innovate and renovate – the mansion stands as a wonderful metaphor for this. The building was like an old lady; she was a bit shy, she was a bit tired, she didn’t want to be transformed. We had to talk to her, we had to reassure her, we had to really find her tough points and encourage her to rebuild a new structure, her own energy, and to make her young and beautiful again. Now that it is done, she is a bit nervous, because she has this grand debut tonight.”
Nervous was the last thing “she” should be. As impressive as a museum, the new Cartier Mansion should, in future, be listed as a magical must-visit New York site for visitors to the city (even if they’re not planning on buying jewelry). The Mansion – which, as legend has it, was the home of Morton and Masie Plant, who traded the residence in 1917 to Pierre Cartier in exchange for a $1 million double-strand pearl necklace (pearls were, at the time, more valuable than diamonds) – has been Cartier’s American flagship boutique ever since. Now, the building stands tall and proud: a story not only of patrimony and jewels, but also of grand architecture.
As the 1,500 guests – including such A-listers as Katie Holmes, Rooney Mara, Sienna Miller, Jourdan Dunn, Sofia Coppola, and Olivia Palermo – packed the building’s six floors, we were promised to expect a surprise in every corner. During the cocktail hour, as each of the six floors filled to the brim in the most grandiose opening New York has seen in a while, attendees stood in awe of both the jewels and the opulent salons (one floor is made to emulate the feeling of being inside the Cartier red box). A central theme to the building is Cartier’s long-standing relationship to Hollywood, with salons named after such luminaries as Elizabeth Taylor, Gary Cooper, and Andy Warhol. The most impressive of them all, the Princess Grace of Monaco Salon, currently boasts the princess’ 10.84-carat engagement ring and some other magnificent pieces, all on loan from the Palace of Monaco for the month of September.
After guests mingled at the caviar bar and watched several performances – one by the New York City Ballet had Katie Holmes and her mother, who was celebrating her birthday, especially enthralled – we walked across the street to an after-party, where footmen, dressed in Cartier uniform, literally stopped traffic as they blocked the pedestrian walks for guests to make their way to the party.
There, we were offered grilled-cheese sandwiches, pressed by actual clothing irons, and Momofuku Milk Bar cake pops on a dessert table as covetable as the glittering jewelry on the celebrities. Upstairs, guests dunked themselves in a steam bath as surprise performances by Chloe and Halle, and later Ellie Goulding, started in the adjacent salon.
There was, as we were promised, a surprise in every corner, but the biggest surprise of them all was how the world’s most beautiful boutique managed to outdo itself.