Cartier's Clash Act, Billy Idol, and the City of Light

Cartier’s Clash Act, Billy Idol,
and the City of Light

Ali Pew goop Fashion Director

Ali Pew’s post as goop fashion director sends her packing. A lot. There are now more fashion weeks than we can count, and photo shoots won’t style themselves. This is our chance to live vicariously.

When a storied house like Cartier does something totally new—not to mention big and unexpected—women the world over perk up their ears. And no one’s interest was piqued more than goop fashion director Ali Pew’s. She hopped on the next plane to Paris for what would be one of the most glamorous weekends of her life.


  1. Every single detail was accounted for. There were medieval archways saturated in the signature red, dimly lit candelabras, a decadent dinner at La Conciergerie, and even surprise performances by Christine and the Queens and—wait for it—Billy Idol. It was surreal. But beyond the pure spectacle, there was the other rebel yell of the night: the Clash de Cartier.

  2. the Clash de Cartier
  3. the Clash de Cartier
  4. the Clash de Cartier the Clash de Cartier
  5. Cartier Earrings
    Cartier, $13,700
  6. And “clash” is exactly how I’d describe the French house’s new collection: a motley crew of spikes and beads and cones, all rendered in Cartier pink gold. Some have diamonds; some don’t. These are the earrings, bracelets, and rings that, if I had to bet, will be appearing on the ears, wrists, and fingers of the oft-photographed set by the time you finish reading this—just like their predecessors from the Panthère collection, and the Love collection before that. So what exactly is in Cartier’s secret sauce for staying relevant?

“Everything we do today is linked to the founding elements, but with the duty to always enrich it.”

For the answer to that question, among many others, I went to the source: Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s international director of image, style, and heritage. Here’s what I found out: Yes, that job title actually exists; no, Rainero does not live in Cartier’s highly confidential archives (I asked); and there’s a very good reason why the jeweler continues to reign supreme—a reason that goes way back. “Eighteen ninety-eight, to be exact,” Rainero tells me.


  1. “Cartier, as we know it today, was born not with the founders but with the third generation of the family, at the end of the nineteenth century, with an idea to create a specific style. That was Louis Cartier’s idea when he joined his father,” explains Rainero.

  2. the Clash de Cartier
  3. the Clash de Cartier
  4. the Clash de Cartier
  5. “In the world of jewelry and, in general, the world of decorative arts, no house was recognized for a specific style—the nineteenth-century was eclectic, mixing different influences from the previous century,” he says. “The vision and ambition of Louis Cartier was for every creation to be recognizable as a Cartier piece—not restraining creative expression but having a common language, a consistency in terms of the eye behind the creation.”

    “We use the metaphor of being a maison, because ‘maison’ means house, meaning that all the skills are gathered under the same roof,” Rainero points out. “We have this culture of all those skills working together, and that culture remains the same generation after generation.”

“Louis Cartier looked to creation, a continuous flow of ideas. The designers were the inventors, and he was guiding them.”

Clas de Cartier

“Louis Cartier did everything he could to ensure the house would go on after him. The way he chose his successor, a woman, it was with the understanding of the founding elements along with the evolution of the future style,” Rainero says. “No other jeweler had that vision and ambition; it was a pioneer attitude because it didn’t exist before that.”

“He created his own library for inspiration,” Rainero explains. We still have that, the original books—most of them are on art and history from all different cultures. That’s part of our creation: having eyes on other cultures.”


Cartier’s designers—or rather, the inventors—put serious thought into the women wearing their jewelry. “The objective is to create beautiful objects but, at the same time, to create designs for the people,” says Rainero. “Our duty is to understand the way people live around us, the way they move. There is a notion of convenience. It’s jewelry for every day.”

And sure, there’s an “excitement with the younger crowd,” as Rainero puts it, but the beauty, as I’ve found with all of Cartier’s collections, is that these are investment pieces that span seasons, occasions, even generations. And let’s be honest, all that aside, is there anything better than unwrapping something shiny from that little red box?