BEVERLY HILLS — If Stanislas de Quercize’s use of “spectacular” to describe the new and enhanced Cartier flagship here is exuberant, the jewelry house’s president and chief executive officer for North America can be forgiven.
The “mansion,” as Cartier’s latest retail model is called, lives up to the adjective — from the two-story glass windows framed in Portoro marble to the 800-pound Venetian chandelier of hand-blown Murano glass suspended center stage.
Most striking is the modern sensibility: the windows, including the glass wall facing Rodeo Drive, allow natural light to pour in; the soothing putty-colored leather banquettes and plush rugs; the generous use of blond oak presented in graphic ways that are arresting, and the glass display cases framed in thin burnished metal.
The full range of Cartier product is on display, from a $3.7 million pink diamond ring to pens starting at $200, handbags for $1,000, and increased offerings of estate pieces and bridal rings.
“It’s spectacular by size and dimension, but also welcoming,” de Quercize said. “It is unusually large for a diamond store, but you have that ‘wow’ effect — just like when you get a Cartier box.”
The store, an imposing box of Cuenca Jerusalem stone, is double Cartier’s original space across the street. The Cartier site at 370 Rodeo Drive added a second floor and was built out to 5,350 square feet. And it has an expansive roof terrace for special events.
The terrace’s use as a party space, as well as the store’s two floors, will be put to the test at Monday night’s grand opening. Among the invited guests are Cartier devotees Elizabeth Taylor, Debra Messing, Andy Garcia, Brad Grey and Rene Russo.
Longtime Cartier client, chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will be there, too. But he’ll be overseeing the endless sushi served for the 500 or so VIPs. And a surprise Grammy-winning artist is set to entertain, along with London DJ Max Chipchase and jazz vocalist Leata Galloway.
But, of course, it’s really about the new mansion, a year in construction, which is a retail template for Cartier doors opening in Paris in October and Tokyo in December. The Rodeo store opened this week, even as construction crews were still at work on the second floor and terrace, which didn’t stop Elton John from swooping in Monday to get a gift for his assistant.
“The design is spectacular,” de Quercize said of Paris-based architect Bruno Moinard’s work, executed by Barteluce Architects & Associates. “And this is part of the biggest renovation for us.”
De Quercize was chatting from Las Vegas, where he has been since last week’s opening of the Wynn Las Vegas resort, the newest address of yet another Cartier door. Response to the latest Vegas store, de Quercize said, “in terms of presence, in terms of impact, is fabulous.”
Cartier has been overhauling its stores. Recent renovations at existing stores in Honolulu; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Bal Harbour, Fla., and Manhasset, N.Y., led to a 20 percent sales spike. “The more spectacular effect, the more sales,” de Quercize said, adding Vegas and Beverly Hills should match those increases.
Of the more than 300 Cartier doors worldwide, 27 are in the U.S. — accounting for $600 million in sales for the brand, which is owned by Compagnie Financiere Richemont and is considered the cash cow of the Swiss luxury group.
Launching the mansion template in Beverly Hills has everything to do with Cartier’s history in Hollywood, de Quercize said. Taylor’s 25-year relationship with the Rodeo Drive store and the name-dropping in films such as 1953’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” have made Cartier part of pop culture’s lexicon.
The star power expected at Monday night’s opening is partly because of the beneficiary, the A.L.S. Project, the nonprofit fund-raising group for the neuromuscular illness known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and an important cause for the entertainment industry.
Cartier’s personal connection to Hollywood has also been nurtured by Maryam Saghatelian, regional director for Cartier U.S.A., whom de Quercize calls “the Queen of Cartier.”
“We needed to refresh our look and show the more contemporary side of Cartier,” she acknowledged, noting that aside from a facelift at the Rodeo shop in 1993, this is the first major redo since her arrival there in 1980.
“We have many clients who’ve been friends of Cartier for many, many years. But young Hollywood — the producers, directors, actors — you should see these young kids coming in, dressed in their jeans and torn T-shirts who just made a big movie,” she said, clearly loving the contrast. “At the Rodeo store, you never know who will drop in.”