SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: On a cool November night, a young man in a red blazer – one with gold buttons and trimmed with black sleeves – stands tall on the red carpet-lined corner of George Street and King. His impeccable bow tie and brimless bellboy cap are a scene-setter for the storied night to come, and a gateway to Cartier’s brand new Sydney flagship boutique.
The French Maison’s latest acquisition in the heart of Sydney is one to be marvelled; a 749 square-metre eco-friendly and luxurious new home for Cartier’s iconic collections: Love, Trinity, Clash. The fifth store to open in Australia and designed by Paris-based architecture company Moinard Bétaille, this one reflects the Australian landscape, its iconic buildings and its flora and fauna. Indeed 80 percent of the materials used for the build were locally sourced, with one its hero: a woven masterpiece by Daphne Banyawarra, an artist at Northern Territory-based, Aboriginal-owned organisation Bula’Bula Arts. Two storey, a winding translucent gold staircase leads upstairs to a cocktail bar where VIPs can sit in a plush suite and order from a bespoke menu designed by Maybe Sammy while perusing the Maison’s high jewellery.
These new intimate spaces in the boutique mirror that of the VIP lounges inside Cartier’s new Rue De La Paix Paris flagship, which the brand says are optimal zones of intimacy and exchange.
“The idea is to give more freedom to the clients, meaning more space,” Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s global director of heritage and style, recently told GRAZIA. “Because when you think of the structure of the [Paris] boutique one century ago, it was just one level. Fifteen years ago, we gave access to a second level. And now it’s the entire building which is accessible to the client. So more and more space, and more and more, let’s say, possibilities for the client to browse and get service. That’s the motto, the main principle.”
“[The boutique] is a mix of open spaces and private spaces,” Rainero continues. “It’s another kind of freedom offered to the client, whether they want to be in the intimacy of the salon, or if they want to buy at the counter.
“In fact, they can enjoy both possibilities. They can choose at the counter and then try the jewellery on in the space of a private seller if they want to. More possibilities to buy the way the clients want to buy, and not to impose any way of buying. This is, I think, important.”
Guests were then transferred to a surprise second location: the Hyde Park Barracks, its historic grounds bathed in a stark Cartier-red light. There was an elegant little French bistro – a short-order restaurant called Bistro 388 – which guests could order up on oysters with cucumber and avruga caviar-salad, Tasmanian grass fed beef fillet and frites and seared yellowfin.
The biggest surprise of the evening, however, was international superstar and Friend Of The Maison, Labrinth, performing a 40-minute set with tracks from his Euphoria album as well as the new single “Iridium”.
“Tonight we welcome our valued guests to an exceptionally curated evening celebrating not only the Maison, but our important relationship with Australia and the city of Sydney,” says Cartier Oceania Managing Director Alban du Mesnil said. “Located in the heart of the city, this is a significant moment that represents the rich history and spirit of the Maison merged with the cultural fabric of Australia.”
Cartier 388 George Street officially opens its doors to the City of Sydney today, November 18.
Take a look inside the launch night’s afterparty here.