The history of an Icon: Cartier’s Panthère

I already briefly touched on the new Panther Collection by Cartier (read my post here), however, the history of this icon is so fascinating and compelling that I feel the need of sharing it with you once more, and more in detail.

Here are they key letters composing the fascinating alphabet which goes and build the story of such an emblem as the Panther is for the Maison Cartier, from its birth to contemporary times.

(All credits to Rouge Cartier for the exceptional and inspiring material. The videos at the end of this posts can be found on Cartier official website, and on YouTube.)

intro

 

A: Avantgarde

Beginning in 1904, Louis Cartier designed pioneering pieces of jewellery well ahead of its time, characterised by simple and geometric lines and striking colour combinations, notably black and white:

Cartier Art Deco Watch Pendant. Yellow gold, platinum, enamel, onyx, diamonds.
Cartier Art Deco Watch Pendant. Yellow gold, platinum, enamel, onyx, diamonds.

 

B: Brooch

With its majestic sapphire cabochon of 152.35 carats, this brooch was commissioned by the Duchess of Windsor and it is considered to be one of Jeanne Toussaint’s master creations:

1949, one of the Duchess' favourite pieces. Cartier bought it back in 1987.
1949, one of the Duchess’ favourite pieces. Cartier bought it back for its collection in 1987.

 

C: Cigarette Case

This precious cigarette case, a gift from Louis Cartier to Jeanne Toussaint in 1917, was the first Cartier creation to showcase the panther in its full shape:

C.001

The same designed has been applied for this Panther Vanity Case, 1928:

Vanity case

 

D: Daisy Fellowes

In 1931, Cartier designed a bracelet and necklace for heiress and fashion icon Daisy Fellowes. The creations evoked a panther’s coat in rubies and pearls, fully in line with Fellowes’ bold personality:

D.001

 

EExoticism

At the end of the 19th century, cosmopolitan Europeans returning from Asia and Africa began to influence the world. Looking ahead and acting as an authentic “trendsetter”, Cartier began to enhance his pieces with touches of the exotic.

 

F: Feline

Cartier’s expertise in designing animal figures expanded to several other precious felines. Tigers, snow leopards, and cougars joined the Maison’s menagerie: jewels built with the perfect proportions and sometimes fully articulated bodies.

Tiger Clip Brooch, Cartier Paris, 1957. Yellow gold. Single- and brilliant-cut diamonds ranging from fancy intense yellow to near colorless. Marquise-shaped emeralds (eyes). Fancy-shaped onyx (stripes).
Tiger Clip Brooch, Cartier Paris, 1957. Yellow gold. Single- and brilliant-cut diamonds ranging from fancy intense yellow to near colorless. Marquise-shaped emeralds (eyes). Fancy-shaped onyx (stripes).
A bold and elegant feline-inspired bracelet, necklace, and ring from Cartier's Cougar collection. This 3-piece jewelry set is crafted out of 18k rose, white, and yellow gold and features F-G VS pave diamonds in the bracelet and necklace and vivid green emeralds in the ring (1.55 carats).
A bold and elegant feline-inspired bracelet, necklace, and ring from Cartier’s Cougar collection. This 3-piece jewelry set is crafted out of 18k rose, white, and yellow gold and features F-G VS pave diamonds in the bracelet and necklace and vivid green emeralds in the ring (1.55 carats).

 

G: George Barbier

In 1914, Louis Cartier commissioned French illustrator George Barbier to draw a “Lady with a panther”, to be later used in advertising. Since then, the black panther has emerged as a more sensual, mysterious, and dangerous creature.

G

 

H: Hunting

At the turn of the century, Jeanne Toussaint and Louis Cartier were two of the very few privileged Europeans to embark on safaris in Africa. After a journey to Kenya, Toussaint developed a passion for the panther and encouraged its adaptation into jewellery.

 

I: Influences

The panther has appeared in various forms and poses throughout its history, designed realistically, graphically or as a mere inspiration. Here are some examples:

Cartier Paris watch/brooch with panther black & white pattern. 1915.
Cartier Paris watch/brooch with panther black & white pattern. 1915.
Cartier Panthère bracelet with a green beryl.
Cartier Panthère bracelet with a green beryl.
La Panthère Eau de Parfum.
La Panthère Eau de Parfum stylised design.

 

J: Jeanne Toussaint

After joining Cartier in 1918, she became known as “La Panthère” for her unique style and captivating personality.

Jeanne Toussaint, 1920.
Jeanne Toussaint, 1920.

 

LLouis Cartier

Louis Cartier appointed Jeanne Toussaint as Artistic Director of High Jewellery in 1933, as he had been imparting his vision and knowledge since 1920s.

Louis Cartier

 

KKnow How 

To capture the real beauty of the panther’s coat, Cartier developed the unique technique called “fur setting”, consisting of stones set in minuscule folded wires of precious metal.

fur setting

 

Credits: my.asiatatler.com
Credits: my.asiatatler.com

 

N: Nina Aga Khan

For her wedding in 1958, Princess Nina Aga Khan received this jewellery set, which is among the most spectacular and naturalistic three-dimensional pieces ever created:

Nina Aga Khan 2

Nina Aga Khan

 

M: Maria Félix

Known as “the Mexican Panther”, in 1967 the actress commissioned a two-headed panther bracelet with articulated head and paws:

Maria Felix

10658805_10153110649357646_3611948564514132144_o

 

O: Onyx

Since its very beginning, onyx is used to simulate the panther’s coat in all jewellery creations.

 

P: Pattern

This 1914 watch with a panther motif was the first Cartier creation to directly refer to the feline.

Cartier first watch with the Panther motif. 1914.

 

Q: Queen of Paris

A curious anecdote for the letter “Q”, about Juliette Greco who, in 1970s, used to sing a song titled “La Panthère”, often wearing a Cartier panther brooch on her right shoulder, as it can be seen in the picture below:

Juliette Greco

 

R: Ring

The first Panther ring was created in 1935, combining for the first time black enamel with yellow gold:

1943 cartier

 

S: Special Order

In 1948, the Duke of Windsor provided Cartier with an exceptional emerald, which was transformed in the first three-dimensional panther brooch, for Wallis Simpson Duchess of Windsor:

The Panther goes tree-dimensional with this brooch commissioned by the Duchess of Windsor in 1948, featuring an onyx spotted feline on a emerald cabochon.
The Panther goes tree-dimensional with this brooch commissioned by the Duchess of Windsor in 1948, featuring an onyx spotted feline on a emerald cabochon.

 

T: Timepieces

The panther is the solo protagonist of magnificent watches and high jewellery watches collections, in all the variations of gold and precious stones:

watch1 watch2 watch3

 

U: Udaipur

In 1982, the Udaïpur set introduced a more docile panther. With its detachable brooch it had a very well deserved place in Cartier’s transformable jewellery. You will notice the necklace in this video, from the official Cartier website:

 

Truly timeless, the Panther keeps on fascinating us and on leaving a mark in our imagination. Here is Panthère de Cartier new collection, in an intense video and in the Maison’s press campaign gallery:

 

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