More than 30 years ago, Jacqueline Karachi-Langane began as a designer for the French Maison. And, today she is responsible for all the exquisite High Jewellery pieces created by Cartier, heading a team of twelve designers. We met at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, on Jacqueline’s recent trip to Singapore for The Etourdissant Cartier Exhibition, where she told us how impressed she is with Singapore because of “the harmony between new architecture and vegetation.”
Haute Time: Can a customer order bespoke designs from Cartier?
Jacqueline Karachi-Langane: Sure. It is the sales people which meet the customer and transmit the special request to the design department. If the order originates in France, then we can meet directly with the client, as the ‘special-order’ design studio is based in Paris.
Either the customer gives us their stone to mount or sometimes they want a special stone…so we look for the stones they dream of, and then we propose it to them. After that, a special Cartier design is created around the stone, per the customer’s request. I find the whole process very interesting, as the request can be anything and we can design everything.
Sometimes they want something completely unusual, like the re-creation (in a jewel) of their favourite horse or dog, or a special object such as a custom-made tiara for a wedding. We make dreams possible.
HT: How do you imbibe the Cartier heritage in the ‘design studio’?
J K-L: I transmit my expertise and my knowledge of the Cartier-style (to the 12 designers). I teach them what is Cartier, what isn’t Cartier, and why. I try to teach them the use of the stones in the Cartier-style. I try to transmit my passion and encourage their passion. The more you know the stone, the more you love it and it’s important to have ‘the eye’ to know what design can be created to still be in line with the Cartier-style. We have roots, and we are proud of them.
As seen in The Etourdissant Cartier Exhibition, there are some traditional pieces, part Cartier’s history which we have to observe. Even though we are in charge of the evolution of the style, we still have to use the DNA of Cartier.
HT: What is the ‘Cartier style’?
J K-L: It is difficult to explain. For example, when we design a piece in black and white, for us it’s very modern. But, at the same time, it links to the Cartier Art-deco pieces. (She points to a jewellery design in the new book of The Etourdissant Cartier collection).
You can see it’s a very modern design, but the colour codes are Cartier codes – black, white and green – but, at the same time it’s completely different (to the traditional Cartier jewels). You can’t say it’s Art-deco, but because we have used this colour combination in the past, you can say it’s ‘Cartier’.
Another example, is of this Tutti Frutti bracelet. It doesn’t have the original colours of Cartier’ tutti-frutti at all. It’s more exotic. But, at the same time the carved leaves are in the tradition of the Cartier tutti-frutti collection. Generally, in the past we never used opal, and especially opal in combination with tutti-frutti. But, the composition could be ‘Cartier’ because of the leaves. Due to certain details and the association of colours, a Cartier piece always stays very chic. Every time we try a new association of colours, but the design always stays true to the ‘Cartier-style’.