María del Rosario de Silva y Gurtubay, Duchess of Alba and mother of the legendary Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, posed in the late twenties for the American edition of Vogue with Cartier onyx and diamond bracelets. The image, taken by George Hoyningen-Huene, a pioneer in the genre of fashion photography, reflected the aristocrat’s predilection for the French house, which was already then an official supplier to the Spanish royal family and its court. Almost a hundred years later, in these new Roaring Twenties, Cartier has chosen the Palacio de Liria, the Alba family’s residence in Madrid, to celebrate the launch of Beautés du Mondehis new collection of fine jewelry.
It is the first time in its history that the firm presents its high jewelery creations in Spain. Every year, and for two decades, the Parisian house has chosen a city in the world to bring together its most important clients from the five continents and the international press and unveil a set of unique pieces – one of each type is produced – and of value almost incalculable. The house has been perfecting these presentations until turning them into true luxury experiences.
Over the next few days, buyers from all over the world will come together in the Spanish capital to discover this new collection. To welcome them, Cartier has completely renovated the old embassy of the United Kingdom, a round building designed by the English brutalist WS Bryant and the Spanish rationalist Luis Blanco-Soler in 1966. The structure, which imitates a bullring and stands out among the palaces classics of the Chamberí neighborhood, had been abandoned for 12 years.
Now the designer Jaime Hayón has turned the Madrid building into what he has called the largest and most beautiful “ephemeral jewelry” in the world, a cabinet of curiosities borgiano: circular, labyrinthine and almost infinite. In these “rooms of wonders” not only are a hundred pieces of Beautés du Mondebut also jewels from other collections, fine watchmaking and historical pieces, including the famous necklace Snake of the Mexican actress María Félix, with 2,473 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 178.21 carats. There everything can be bought, and everything has a price. The sky in Madrid is the limit.
On Tuesday night, the Versailles gardens of Liria hosted a cocktail party at the foot of the parterre and a dinner under the lush vegetation galleries. A corner of the palace where the Duchess of Alba used to celebrate her most intimate family events. The dancer and choreographer Blanca Li and the actress Milena Smit, new Cartier ambassadors, were two of the guests of honor, although Li’s role went further, as she was also in charge of the evening’s artistic direction. “The idea was to create a universe with a Spanish touch. Many people have come from abroad and I wanted them to know that they are in Spain. I wanted them to savor who we are”, explained the dancer.
Li continues to live between Madrid and Paris — “two cities with completely different energies, but that fill me up a lot” —, from where he combines various projects: the world tour of his show The Ball of Paris, which has just finished at the Barbican Center in London and is now coming to the Venice Biennale; a new Show based on baroque music, which he will present in January; and the management of the Teatros del Canal in the Spanish capital. “Los Teatros del Canal is a ship, an ocean liner. It requires a lot of work, but it’s worth it”, acknowledged the choreographer, who tries to take advantage of two complementary cities. “Madrid gives me some things, and Paris others. I keep what I like about each one and pass on the rest”.
the spirit of the duchess
For her part, Milena Smit, the last Almodóvar girl, is immersed in several shootings that she cannot reveal. “But I can talk about the projects that I am going to release: dragonflies, under the direction of Luc Knowles, which will hit theaters in September; and Tin & Tina, a Rubin Stein film in which I act alongside Jaime Lorente”, he advanced. In addition, it will soon be able to be seen on Netflix twice with the snow girlthe series that the platform is preparing streaming based on the best seller by Javier Castillo; and Soulthe new youth series by Sergio G. Sánchez (Marrowbone’s Secret).
The actress, who rose to fame last year with parallel mothers, is delighted with her new role as ambassador for Cartier. “I am quite a badass, but I feel identified with the firm because my spiritual animal is the panther, the symbol of the house. I have always liked felines,” she explained, as she caressed her choker. panthere. “I wish I could keep her, I would sleep with her.”
The Italian aristocrat Bianca Brandolini d’Adda, another friend of the firm, also did not miss the appointment. “It is not the first time that I am in the Liria palace. Many years ago, the Duchess of Alba invited me and I got to know the house from her hand. It’s strange to come back and she’s not there. Her spirit is still alive, ”recalled the also model. Brandolini reunited with her compatriot, the supermodel Mariacarla Boscono, and met another ambassador of the housethe influencers South Korean Jisoo, member of the group Blackpink, who has almost 62 million followers on her Instagram account.
Before dinner, a dozen models paraded through the gardens with some of the most important pieces of Beautés du Monde and Alvarno dresses. Designers Álvaro Castejón and Arnaud Maillard created each suit inspired by a jewel from the collection: Nouchalia water lily with a rubellite of 10.61 carats; Yo quiero, an abstract green iguana with three emeralds from Colombia totaling 43.45 carats; either recifa coral necklace inspired by the marine ecosystem.
The night ended with a surprise concert by the Black Eyed Peas, the popular Californian hip hop band. But Tuesday’s event in Liria has only been the starting signal for two dizzying weeks for Cartier. The Parisian house will throw more parties and will bring more than 300 VIP clients from all over the world to Madrid so that they can see —and buy, if they wish— the pieces that make up the first chapter of Beautés du Mondea trip around the world and the history of the house.