It’s a long stretch to find any hint of lasting style in this year’s Christmas fashion fad – the kitsch acrylic Christmas Sweater. But both fickly fashion – and anyone with a sense of timeless style – won’t be shining the spotlight on the Christmas pudding/Rudolph/Santa Sweater any time beyond Boxing Day.
If style got sidelined somewhere this Christmas, there’s a world of style to reflect on once the glare of tinsel fades. Recently opened at the Grand Palais, Paris is the exhibition Cartier: Le Style et L’Histoire (until Feb. 16th). This Cartier showcase exhibition visits the artistic and social heritage and fine craftsmanship behind some of the world’s finest watches and achingly beautiful jewellery crafted by the House of Cartier since 1847. Curated to present Cartier pieces not so much as historical pieces, but as works of art, many of the 400 exhibits are on private loan to the exhibition, including, from the British Royal Collection, the diamond ‘Halo’ tiara originally owned by the Queen Mother and worn by Kate Middleton at her wedding to Prince William. Also among the exhibits are a ruby necklace owned by Elizabeth Taylor, and a collection of exquisite jewels worn by Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Brigitte Bardot.
Long has been the artistic and historical fascination with the eternal beauty of Cartier – this is the 27th independently curated museum exhibition on Cartier in the last 25 years, with each exhibition focusing on a distinct curatorial theme. Whilst the house of Cartier has certainly not shied away from such high-brow publicity – they are underwriting the installations in this current exhibition – the fascination in the artistic integrity, historical narrative and the priceless beauty is testament to the unwavering style of Cartier.
Timeless Style – Return to British Manufacturing
Integral to lasting style is attention to quality craftsmanship, and this underlies the recent clamour by many luxury British brands to return manufacturing to Britain. Mulberry has pledged to keep 30 percent of its manufacturing in the UK. Burberry has invested in an apprenticeship scheme in Yorkshire where it manufacturers its trenchcoats. And the Cambridge Satchel Company prides itself on keeping manufacturing 100% British-based. Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham, Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Kane, Paul Smith and a host of other internationally successful British designers have built their reputations on British quality design.
There is a sense of heritage and quality attached to the idea of making it in Britain – possibly nostalgic, but underlying this is a sense there is a high commitment to a discerning quality crafted under British watch. And it is high time for this renaissance – many industries have dwindled since the exodus several decades ago to cheaper manufacturing bases, and are finally receiving a flood of new orders and much deserved recognition for artisanal craftsmanship. There’s been no better time to keep design and manufacturing local – for an assurance of lasting style and quality, at the very least. I aim to create a discreet luxury knitwear brand – no Cartiers here! But an uncompromising commitment to quality, immaculate construction and uncontrived style are qualities to be drawn from Cartier, and the many style icons who have adorned its timeless jewels.
Have a wonderfully stylish, kitsch or however you want it to be, Christmas! x