CNC’s Antonia Centioni reviews the Studio 7 by Cartier exhibition, which explores the sentiment behind the brand’s seven spotlight pieces, including an insight from Maurice Mullen on his own Cartier story and the unique immersive experience of the viewer.
Studio 7 by Cartier brought to life a new chapter of Cartier stories over 4 galleries at the Saatchi Gallery from 23rd July to 8th August 2021 – a portrait exhibition celebrating the Maison’s seven most iconic creations across watches and jewellery: Santos, Tank, Trinity, Love, Juste Un Clou, Panthère and Ballon Bleu.
Historic portraits from Jean Cocteau to Tina Turner, meet modern-day icons and Maison’s VIP clients featuring Ramla Ali, Mary McCartney and Maurice Mullen.
Gallery 1: Legends & The Cartier Collection
The first gallery, titled ‘Legends’ showcases a series of historical portraits of icons of the stage and screen wearing Cartier creations. The larger-than-life portraits immediately command your attention, captured by a halo glow from the subdued lighting scheme. The images carry an energy that evokes the personality of each icon and presents a dramatic introduction to the exhibition.
I was immediately captivated by the image of Jean Cocteau’s pensive gaze, I felt transported to a coffee shop on a boulevard in Montparnasse, Paris in the 1920s (the famously renowned meeting place for artists of the time). I could not help but glance at the stacked two trinity rings on his pinky finger.
Up next was the unstoppable energy of Tina Turner captured on the set of her 1993 Vanity Fair cover shoot by Michael Comte. It shows the mother of rock’n’roll wearing her Cartier love bracelet, poised mid-breath behind her mic stand.
Gallery 2: Inspiration
Gallery 2 entitled ‘Inspiration’ provides a contrast to the previous Legends collection with a focus on portraiture of contemporary icons, which demonstrated the cross-generational, timeless appeal of Cartier. This area of the exhibition featured the likes of actress Vanessa Kirby, who wears her own Juste Un Clou bracelet, to boxer Ramla Ali in her Panthère watch. This series of monochromatic black and white portraits, by renowned British photographer Mary McCartney, are projected on a floor to ceiling screen for a fully immersive viewer experience.
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Gallery 3: Studio
Gallery 3 turns the attention away from the exhibited and allows the viewer to become the muse within the purpose built Cartier ‘Studio’. This custom space acted as an open invitation for Cartier lovers to be photographed wearing their favourite Cartier creations to have their portrait taken by emerging photographers, currently being mentored by Mary McCartney.
Maurice Mullen, Head of Fashion & Luxury at The Evening Standard and ES Magazine and recent Condé Nast College industry speaker, was invited by Cartier to have his portrait taken and he generously shares his photograph wearing his Tank watch circa 1984.
Maurice explains how, “in my case, the ‘icon’ they chose to focus on was a watch I bought in Harvey Nichols in 1984. At that time Cartier had a shop-in-shop on the ground floor of the store and, whilst working in London during my summer break, I was alerted by a friend to a watch in there which, in their opinion, would really suit me. The price was a bit of a stretch for a post-grad student, but I thought it was such a beautiful piece I took a deep breath and bought it!”.
At the end of the photoshoot Maurice was presented with his portrait, an object to take away, a thoughtful touch. In the digital age photographs have become a rarity, but with most things that become almost obsolete, we are now experiencing a resurgence. We value physical objects much like your favourite Cartier piece. Keepsakes we can touch that hold sentiment and craftsmanship lasting beyond a lifetime.
Maurice adds, “Happily I still have it today and not only does it keep perfect time, but its simple classic lines are still fresh and a delight to the eye”.
Gallery 4: Encounters
Finally, the fourth room ‘Encounters‘ is a powerful exhibition space, where nostalgic stories come to life and selected portraits shot in the studio are displayed in an ever-changing digital mosaic. Each photograph is thoughtfully accompanied by a personal anecdote.
The curation of this exhibition takes the visitor on an experiential journey, you begin as the viewer and mid-way through your perspective transitions to the status of subject.
Alas by the time this article is published, this two-week fleeting exhibition will no longer be on display. However, one thing is for certain, Cartier’s jewellery and legacy will remain transcendent of time for future generations to come.
By Antonia Centioni, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication