In a New York minute: Cartier's Fifth Avenue store reopens as a grand maison
With its storied, 100-year history and iconic visage, Cartier’s Fifth Avenue boutique in New York, known simply as the Mansion, reopens this week after a two and a half year renovation. Redesigned to mimic the feeling of stepping into a grand residence, the new four-floor space is an elegant patchwork of private salons and public spaces that showcase Cartier’s collections of jewellery, accessories, timepieces and objects in all their glory.
At quadruple the size of its previous iteration, the new Cartier Mansion features a slew of individualised decorative touches throughout its expanse. From special window treatments to fabric and leather upholstery for the walls, and a variety of furniture on parade, architect Thierry Despont has merged 35 different design styles to create the boutique’s rich interior. The space also features 30 chandeliers, reproductions of the originals placed by Pierre Cartier in the building, along with preserved cerused oak paneling from the original space, and 110 antiques acquired especially by Cartier’s heritage department and Despont together.
‘The Cartier Mansion is an icon,’ says Despont. ‘I wanted to give people the feeling of being in the grand house that it once was and to restore it to its full glory. I don’t think there is any other store like it in the world.’
The boutique can be accessed at two thresholds – the original entrance off Fifth Avenue, complete with a reconstruction of its historical glass vestibule, or via a more private entrance on 52nd Street that leads clients directly to a concierge desk and the boutique’s dramatic, classical staircase. A private mezzanine provides a suitable space to peruse the house’s high jewellery creations, while an ornate lacquer panel featuring Cartier’s signature crimson hue and a trio of gilded, gold leaf leopards serves as a glamorous focal point that can be enjoyed by all.
On the second floor, the space is divided into two: a champagne-coloured, oval room named for the Princess Grace of Monaco that aptly displays Cartier’s extensive engagement ring collection, and the more seductive Elizabeth Taylor room, which showcases the more opulent and colourful high jewellery creations. In both, private photographs of the actresses, pieces especially commissioned for them and other memorabilia bring the legendary history of Cartier to life.
The third floor, dedicated to men’s and women’s timepieces, offers a change of pace with red leather armchairs and molded oak finishes. Similarly, the fourth floor complements Cartier’s leather, accessory and fragrance collections with red leather walls and ceilings that reference the house’s recognisable jewellery boxes, while bestowing a carefree and contemporary feel.
The comprehensive refresh of the landmarked building, which comes a century after its original opening in 1917, not only brings back Cartier’s illustrious history to the fore, but ensures that its legacy will thrive and live on in the years to come.