Majestic, powerful and elegant, there’s little wonder that the panther rules over all the exotic animals of Cartier’s menagerie.
“Into the Wild”, an immersive installation that celebrates the maison’s emblematic feline, arrives in Kuala Lumpur this September, taking guests on a journey to discover more about the revered creature.
It invites all to venture into the world of Panthère de Cartier in all of its stylistic forms – from the woman who inspired it to the savoir-faire that brought it to life – through the sensuous experience staged at Workshop 3, Sentul Depot, from 4 to 18 September 2022.
Online registration is required, with more details available at intothewild.cartier.my
A roaring debut
The presence of the panther was first noted in the maison’s repertoire in 1914, following its appearance in George Barbier’s “Lady with a Panther” – an illustration commissioned by Louis Cartier for a jewellery exhibition invitation that same year. Its debut as a Cartier creation took on a more abstract form, manifesting as panther spots on a ladies’ wristwatch dubbed the Montre Panthère. The black onyx speckling the diamond-pavéd case recalled the pattern of a panther’s coat. The characteristic pattern reappeared in 1915 on the rectangular case of a chatelaine watch acquired by Pierre Cartier.
Fast forward to 1917, the panther received its first figurative representation, as depicted on a cigarette case gifted by Louis Cartier to Jeanne Toussaint; a fitting present for a woman whose sharp wit and fierce determination earned her the moniker “La Panthère”.
An eccentric, emancipated visionary, her taste and originality made such an impression on Louis Cartier that he invited her to come and work for the maison in the early 1920s. Her initial involvement was focused on designing handbags, but she eventually went on to design vanity cases, cigarette cases and all manner of accessories. She came to specialise in jewellery design following her appointment as the head of the new “S” (Silver) department in 1924, which focused on producing more accessible “designer” collections. In 1933, she became one of the first women to occupy a highly prominent position in the industry, after Louis Cartier promoted her to Creative Director at the Rue de la Paix studio, where she oversaw an all-male staff of designers, artisan jewellers and gem-setters.
There, she worked together with designer Pierre Lemarchand, a frequent visitor to the Vincennes Zoo, to create a new sculptural silhouette: the proud and powerful panther of the 1940s. They successfully transformed the motif into one of the most evocative pieces of jewellery. In 1948, she fleshed out the creature in three dimensions for a Panthère brooch commissioned by the Duke of Windsor as a gift for the Duchess. It presented as a golden panther perched imposingly upon a striking emerald cabochon that weighed more than 116-carat. This was followed by another three-dimensional anatomical rendition in 1949, this time in the form of a sapphire Panthère brooch that was created by Jeanne Toussaint on her own initiative and was subsequently also acquired by the Windsors. Ever since the birth of these iconic pieces, Panthère has prowled the annals of the maison for decades to come, a true embodiment of the poised and inspiring ladies who delighted in wearing the majestic creations inspired by the striking feline.
Following its debut, Panthère de Cartier has been subjected to unbridled imagination in jewellery design, watchmaking, fine leather goods, home accessories, eyewear, and high perfumery. Crafting a Panthère piece is no easy feat as the many steps it requires – from the designing to the gem mounting, paving, and setting – must all accumulate to form one objective: to reproduce the spirit of the animal. The idea behind a Panthère creation is not to imitate but to pay homage to nature, breathe life into the animal and provide it with a personality.
Through a close collaboration between the design studios and workshops, the vitality of the panther is achieved. Both must be in constant exchange throughout the entire development process, working together to combine the notions of movement, beauty, ergonomics, volume and architecture with realism and elegance.
Panther motif, sculpture, realism – these are some of the challenges faced when crafting a Panthère piece. Through the use of glyptics and artistic crafts, the maison has furthered its panther savoir-faire. The creation of the glyptics workshop allowed the design team to design original new panthers, using hardstone, petrified wood, and fossilised organic substances.
“Cartier’s glyptics workshop is absolutely one of a kind. It allows me to fulfil my role of Maître d’art by passing on my unique know-how, experience and knowledge of stones. We imagine, design and create, following the piece’s production in concert with the jewellers, gem-cutters and gem-setters,” says the maison’s master glyptician, Philippe Nicolas. “But carving a panther always presents a particular challenge. How can I successfully bring the feline to life? How can I bring out its essence? Will it correspond to the vision of the Cartier design teams?”
Glypticians spend nearly six months crafting sculptures from materials such as agate, beryl, or petrified wood, while the artistic craft teams draw on innovative technical and creative procedures to recreate the panther’s face. These newly available forms of know-how are principally applied to fine watchmaking, the examples of such work often exhibited on watch dials. Be it in enamel, miniature painting, filigree, grisaille gold paste enamel or flamed gold, the panther is reinvented on every occasion.
From the pioneering ladies of the 20th century, to the modern ladies of the 21st, the Panthère has been spotted elevating the looks of influential women over the decades.
“For over 100 years, the women who wear Panthère de Cartier creations have been distinguished by their character, daring and freedom. They include the Duchess of Windsor, Daisy Fellowes, María Félix and Monica Bellucci. We decided to pay homage to the strong personalities and confident styles of these women with the latest Panthère de Cartier campaign. The Panthère de Cartier community continues to grow as actors and actresses join this new adventure: Annabelle Wallis, Mariacarla Boscono, Ella Balinska, Karen Mok, Yasmine Sabri and Chang Chen,” states Arnaud Carrez, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Cartier.
Of course, exuding a strong charisma, the Panthère is also favoured by men. One fine example is Chang Chen, as mentioned above. A friend of the Maison since 2015, the Taiwanese actor possesses rare magnetism and sophisticated sensuality that make him an ideal ambassador for Panthère de Cartier. The latest famous face to join the Panthère community is Jisoo, a member of the popular K-pop group, BLACKPINK. The 27-year-old South Korean singer was introduced as the brand ambassador and face of the Panthère collection in May 2022.
More than a century since the panther first lent its iconic spots to Cartier, it continues to be a most revered animal in the maison’s menagerie, beloved globally by all. It is only fitting that the panther is celebrated through an immersive installation as engaging and informative as “Into the Wild”.