Cartier’s Le Voyage Recommencé Shines on the Fourth Cover of 10 Magazine USA Issue 01

There were exquisite lemon-scented Tuscan gardens, grottos alive with mythical stones and a cache of otherworldly high jewellery designs. Europe in high jewellery season is a fantasy world, the couture equivalent of Paris in July. Before that, every June, legendary jewellery houses conduct grand tours of fabled cities to reveal their most exalted collections of one-off designs created around serious, rare gemstones. This jamboree reached its zenith when Cartier, the grande dame of them all, unveiled its own suite of museum-quality jewels.

This year, Florence, one of Italy’s most storied cities, was a fitting destination for the launch of Le Voyage Recommencé, an elegantly concise collection of 80 high jewellery pieces created to inspire awe, joy and, ultimately, desire. High jewellery season is geared towards that other rare thing, an elusive party of international clients who each have their sights set on certain pieces, which they have previewed on paper but are now invited to ponder up close over a few magical, sun-drenched days.

Mirroring the unique, earth-born gemstones that signify high jewellery design, collections are often inspired by the grand themes of nature: the sun, oceans, deserts, sky. This year, with Le Voyage Recommencé, Cartier presents a more enlightened journey – a futuristic universe built around the karmic notion of rebirth. And who better than Jacqueline Karachi-Langane, creative director of Cartier Prestige and the designer who built this world in precious metals and stones, to reveal its beginnings.

“Each high jewellery collection we create is an evolution,” she reveals at the rambling Tuscan villa where I get my first chance to see the collection. “Step by step, we add details to enrich the distinctive style of the house with the fresh perspective of our times – modernity.”

I’ve been lucky enough to meet Karachi-Langane a few times over the years. A shy, intellectual presence with an ebullient spirit, I’ve always been struck by how the notion of movement continues to underpin her design vision. She often talks about the “rhythm” of a piece, the “journey of imagination”, or “returning to the level of our roots”. Today, she is thinking about the importance of articulation, of movement in design, “because women are in movement, too. One of the most interesting things we can do is to manipulate the piece, so it adapts to all the volume of the body of a woman and moves in time with her.”

And what of the new voyage? Or indeed the new- old one, that spirit of reincarnation that Le Voyage Recommencé aims to awaken? “We face the challenge of going where we have never been and being willing to take the risk,” she admits. “If we don’t do that, the style will not evolve. And yet, we don’t know until quite late on in the process if the new route will work. It’s like the tree of life. You must cut it sometimes to the level of the roots and start again. But that allows space to develop, new branches to blossom.”

Karachi-Langane and her team have infused the entire collection with that illusory sense of déjà vu, the Distrysia necklace being a strong example. Its central stone, a fancy brown-yellow diamond, bamboozles, so you don’t quite understand what you are looking at. It’s like a futuristic version of a traditional step-cut, as if there are layers of rectangular facets that have slipped out of sync in a mesmeric, optical twist. “That brown diamond is a crazy cut,” says Karachi-Langane with pride. “It’s amazing. And I think the stone-cutter was a genius because it’s completely balanced and at the same time unbalanced, like a new expression of graphism.”

As much as they were drawn to the stone, it presented Karachi-Langane and her team with a real challenge as they tried to counterpoise its shifting appearance. “We looked at it like a macro view of a blue butterfly wing and the poetry in the pixels of colour you can see as it moves,” she reveals. This, in turn, prompted the idea of using colour to ground the design, so stones, including lapis lazuli, pink diamonds, amethysts and sapphires, were woven into the mix.

Geometry and nature, two classic Cartier themes, are omnipresent in this very modern high jewellery collection. The house popularised the art deco style in jewellery design in the early 20th century. It was appropriated by many design and fashion houses at the time, but Cartier’s take was always going to be different because Louis Cartier’s global travel inclinations meant the experiences of a wider world, different cultures and crafts journeyed back to Paris with him.

It was a given that the powerfully graphic patterns and colours of Islamic decor, say, or the gem-carving techniques of India infiltrated his design vision. Meanwhile, the legendary Jeanne Toussaint, a close friend of Cartier, was anointed creative director in 1933, adding the influence of a highly fashionable artistic circle that introduced the likes of Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel into the mix.

When we look at the mathematical form of the Girih necklace we see Islamic craft signatures, while the rich green emeralds and particularly light turquoise remind us of the house’s early art deco designs. “I absolutely agree,”says Karachi-Langane.“The necklace is naturally art deco because of the severe lines but I am completely in awe of it because of the colour of the turquoise stone. I mean, the Islamic style in Cartier goes back a long way and now people are using it, but we used it a long time ago. This quality of turquoise, completely pure colour without any spot or imperfection, is very rare to find today. Also, creating these perfect triangular shapes is a very complicated process.”

It’s not the same for all high jewellery houses, but for Karachi-Langane and Cartier, everything begins with the stone. “We do not choose the stone by chance,” she says, a preference that is particularly apparent in Le Voyage Recommencé. It is another aspect that perhaps naturally reflects current tastes. “We were looking for a different type of diamond, one that gives rhythm, newness, that was cut in a sharper way.” It works. The inventive use of traditional stone cuts, those angular shield and kite-cut diamonds (named after their shapes) throughout Le Voyage Recommencé infuse the collection with a fizzing energy.

But in a universe of extraordinary gems, how do you pinpoint your star? Well, in the Cartier way, as the highlight of this collection is not a stonking great diamond. Rather, it is a tiny stone with a huge bearing, an extremely rare grey-violet diamond. “It’s incredibly small, just a little less than one carat, but it’s powerful because you won’t find a bigger diamond like this,” the designer confirms.

It is impossible to find another because the Argyle diamond mine in Kimberley, northern Australia, once the world’s key source of rare, pink diamonds, ceased production in 2020, when the last gem offered itself up. “It’s the only place where we were able to find a violet diamond,” says Karachi-Langane, underlining how jewellery houses continually source gems from around the world then sit on them and wait for the right moment to work with them. Today, pink diamonds can be found in other places, Africa for example, but they are not as intense as the Argyle gems. “Red diamonds are very rare, too, but violet is the rarest, so this is just incredible, one of the rarest diamonds in the world.”

But back to nature and the house mantra: “There is nothing romantic or sweet when it comes to Cartier’s representation of nature.” And no Cartier collection is complete without a celebration of its most potent symbol – the Panthère. It was Toussaint, after all, who crystallised one of nature’s most magnificent beasts as the house’s resounding motif. This time, however, the cat is not prowling the streets of Paris or the grasslands of Kenya. Today it is reborn as a snow leopard, the Panthère Givrée, a frozen, glistening fable of diamonds, lapis lazuli, onyx and 20.33 carats of ice- cool aquamarines.

Its reincarnation appears to have been a particularly joyful creative endeavour. “We went back into the woods with this one,” she says, smiling, “back to the roots of the tree to propose something very modern but in the essence of our era.” Again, that almost futuristic notion of refracted, fleeting light comes into play. “The panther is like a pixelisation of the animal’s fur pattern. It’s like if you spot an animal in the snow, at first glance you don’t see the pattern, you only see the spots. Then it darts off, a blurred pattern disappearing into the landscape.”

As such, the figurative part of the Panthère Givrée necklace is, I think, the glittering pinnacle of the Le Voyage Recommencé, of the creativity, imagination and exceptional skill that goes into jewellery design at this level. This imaginative avant-garde reincarnation of the big cat shimmers with creativity, a sense of not being completely there, an illusion that is real. But this half-figurative, half-abstract form compels you to take a second glance. “As you look closer, you see the form but the longer you look, it begins to disappear,” says Karachi-Langane. “This is a new story that can go further.”

Talking of stories, there’s more than a touch of science fiction about the way the designer and her team have imagined this tale, a Cartier universe reborn, a future landscape. Take the Ondule ring: it looks like a temple that could be easily scaled up as a huge building on a film set, the tiny stone as the HQ of an alien deity.

Karachi-Langane enjoys the comparison. “The language of architecture speaks to everyone. You have cities almost everywhere today and our clientele travels everywhere, so as our style echoes throughout each era we like to imagine the future, a dream world with this social link to our era, too.”

And now, as the Tuscan sun glows into a descent behind the hills, the overall visionary that is Cyrille Vigneron, Cartier’s president and CEO since 2016, invites us to join the brand on an evening created as a dream, where “beauty is a choice, not something that is given, an ideal we have to look for, because the opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s meanness. And if we take that ideal, we can work at what it takes to be beautiful. So, we invite you to this journey, which is invented over and over again.”

Night falls, a performance by Labrinth lightens up the night, Adrien Brody takes to the decks and Elle Fanning and Vanessa Kirby swan around the trees wearing magical jewels, as the world shimmers in a whole new light.


Issue 01 of 10 USA – FASHION, ICON, DEVOTEE – is on newsstands September 7. Pre-order your copy here



Reportage Photographer GESUALDO LANZA
Model CAREN JEPKEMEI at Titanium Management
Make-up SHARON DOWSETT using Dr Sam’s Skincare
Fashion coordinator GARTH ALLDAY SPENCER
Photographer’s assistant FERNANDO AVILA
Fashion assistant GEORGIA EDWARDS
Special thanks to CARTIER team

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