Our luxury correspondent Trevor Butterworth continues his demented trip down the international lane of luxury. The other day, he rode-along with the Cartier crew for the launch of their Love charity bracelet.
The new Cartier Love bracelets.
There was dash, there was swoon, there was confusion and there was envy. But how could there not be on “declare your love” day? “Cartier stands for love, commitment and passion,” said Frederic de Narp, President and CEO of Cartier North America, as he launched a national charity initiative from Manhattan’s de facto pulpit, the NASDAQ exchange in Times Square on June 8. And if the adoring looks of the ladies present were anything to go by, the day was off to a tragic start: the 37-year old Frederic—clearly the hottest CEO in North America—was married and would go home that evening to Chateaux de Narp in Westchester to be with his “brilliant and amazing wife” and their six children.
And then there was Sarah Jessica Parker, who arrived with golden hair a-flowing on feet that barely touched the floor. “They are fabulous,” whispered a French reporter in awe of Ms. Parker’s gravity-defying Christian Louboutin shoes, even though it looked as if the delicate star might break free at any moment and float off to join the cast of a pre-Raphaelite painting—which is quite possibly where she’d just come from. “I want to thank NASDAQ for this lovely and hospitable welcome,” said Ms. Parker, as she was breaking poor NASDAQ’s heart. She would ring in the opening of the exchange with Monsieur de Narp and Spike Lee, but she would not, as is tradition, sign the opening book.
Word spread quickly that it was because she didn’t know what NASDAQ would do with her signature. This produced a “huh?” moment among the correspondents who cover luxury goods: Had Ms. Parker suddenly balked at endorsing global capitalism? Was she angry over the falling value of Google—or maybe harboring a secret love for the Paris Bourse? Who could say? But her playing hard-to-get added a certain frisson of authenticity to the proceedings; “for love, as Yeats warned, “will not seem worth thinking of to certain women if it seem certain.”
And finally, there was the love charity bracelet; but one had to schlep back up to Fifth Avenue to actually see the material point of all this gentlemanly dash and girlish drama. Though Cartier has come rather late to the concept of wearing one’s charity on one’s wrist (or wherever), it has achieved what hitherto has been impossible: it has made the concept attractive. Drawing inspiration from the “screw motif” on the original 1969 love bracelet, the small gold rings born on braids of different color silk may officially say, “I love you UNICEF!” (Ms. Parker’s designated charity), or “I want to save the Maasai Wilderness” (with Edward Norton), but they speak first and foremost to that most fundamental of charitable impulses: I love me!
“Buy em all,” said Spike Lee, when pressed about how to choose between the eight bracelets retailing for $475 each (with $100 of that going to charity)—after all, there was some hot competition to Mr. Lee’s violet bracelet from Liv Tyler’s deep pink (The Breast Cancer Foundation), Ashley Judd’s red (Youth AIDS), Salma Hayek’s white (The Salma Hayek Foundation)—and even Michael Stipe’s black (Mercy Corps).
Mr. Lee wants you to declare your love for his students at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. “By buying the love bracelet that’s violet,” he said, moving closer to the tape recorder—”remember, NYU is violet—you’ll be helping some very talented, talented film makers to get their films made.” Mr. Lee graduated from the school’s Kanbar Institute of Film and Television in 1982, has taught there for the past nine years, and was appointed its artistic director four years ago. He is currently editing his next movie, a four-hour documentary on the disaster that befell New Orleans last summer, “When the Levees Broke,” which will air over August 21 and 22 on HBO. (“It looked like a nuclear bomb was dropped,” said Lee, who made seven trips to the city.)
On the face of things, the thought of helping impecunious auteurs get to Sundance may not pull heart strings in the way helping the stricken and needy does (I ask you, who wouldn’t want to help Scarlett Johansson help USA Harvest feed the hungry by wearing her baby pink bracelet?). But in a way, Mr. Lee’s declaration of love was the most profound of all the celebrities collaborating with Cartier. “I love to teach,” he explained—and anytime I can get some money to help these students.” It was also the most shrewd. New York University now has the most chic alumni gift of any college in the nation.