Sacai’s latest show, the brand’s first in two years, took place in the grand ballroom of the 20th-century Hôtel de Ville in Paris. However, guests waiting for the show to begin might not have fully appreciated the red light from the jewelry box casting the ornate space in a soft crimson glow.
The hue was a harbinger of things to come: alongside a ready-to-wear collection of deconstructed pinstripe suits, leather thigh-high boots and trench coats transformed into strapless dresses, Sacai launched its latest collaboration – a reimagining of Cartier’s Trinity and the first major redesign of the nearly century-old jewelry icon.
“Sacai’s DNA lies in the idea of taking something familiar and turning it into something you’ve never seen before,” says founder Chitose Abe of the brand she launched in as a knitwear brand in Japan in 1999, and which has since become a revered house in the fashion industry. It’s a philosophy that has always applied to his clothes, which often transform or merge two garments in unexpected ways. Also with Cartier, Abe took the trio of yellow, white and rose gold and expanded it to dramatic proportions.
His version of the Trinity ring features three differently sized bands that can be looped over two, three or four fingers, while an earring works as a cuff or with the different metals bound together and dangling.
“This ring,” says Abe, tinkling the metal on his fingers, “is similar to clothing in that it can be worn in different ways. It was important to incorporate [the multifunctionality] in the designs, while maintaining [the design imprimatur of] the three rings. I wanted the jewelry to be eternal and functional. As with my clothes, the patterns are very complicated, but ultimately they must be very easy to wear.
This isn’t Sacai’s first time designing jewelry, following collaborations with Copenhagen-based Sophie Bille Brahe and Dior menswear artistic director Kim Jones last year. It is, however, one of only two times Cartier has allowed a fashion house into its design room, the other example being French dressmaker Madame Grès, in 1979, who released a small range of jewelry with the house. based around a chilli pepper motif. .
Cartier has long been a part of Abe’s life: one of the first items she bought from the brand was a Trinity ring, and she usually wears a Cartier Panthère watch, as well as the Love and Ecrou de Cartier bracelets. “I’m an existing customer, so it was a very natural decision,” says Abe. “With collaborations, it’s never really a business decision for me, it’s more because I want to wear something from the brand. For example, the Dior collaboration was born because I’m friends with Kim, and the Cartier one was born because I love Cartier, and I was curious to know what would come out of it.
“It’s very interesting to see someone else’s vision and integrate it into a Cartier design – a different version of our own style,” says Pierre Rainero, Director of Image, Style and Cartier heritage. “Chitose shared her understanding of the dimensions of the ring and gave ideas and values about what she wanted in terms of shapes – and asked how far she could go.”
Some of Cartier’s most famous creations were born out of a dialogue between the house and its customers. The Santos watch, for example, was created by Louis Cartier for his friend the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, in 1904. The Trinity too, although designed for stock, was adopted early on and popularized by the French artist and writer Jean Cocteau, who wore two stacked on his little finger. “A lot of people think he was the one who created it for Cartier, which isn’t true at all, but he was a loyal customer,” adds Rainero, “and when he was made a member of the French Academy in 1955, he asked Cartier to help him design a sword, offered to all new members, which included the Trinity in its design.
The reinterpretation of an icon such as Trinity comes at a time when consumers, including younger consumers, are buying classics rather than seeking out new designs. The tricolor ring still remains one of its best-sellers, while on resale site Vestiaire Collective, Cartier is the most searched jewelry brand, with Trinity being one of the most popular searches.
1stdibs also has a steady demand for Trinity de Cartier creations, where they “not only retain their value over time, but also tend to appreciate,” says the online marketplace’s editorial director, Anthony Barzilay. Freud. “The design has also been around long enough to achieve heirloom status, with families passing the rings down from generation to generation or creating traditions where Trinity rings are gifted to commemorate milestones.”
The collaboration with Sacai, a brand that has always appealed to a younger, more streetwear-oriented clientele, will further strengthen Cartier’s appeal to a new audience. “We live in a world where everything changes very quickly, and these classics represent a beacon; it’s something very reassuring,” says Rainero. “But they have to be relevant in a modern context – that’s the condition for new generations to consider these classics.”
For Abe, in addition to creating a version of Trinity that customers have never seen before and bringing an edgy twist to an icon, she hopes the designs will instill that same sense of comfort. “I really hope that whoever the wearer feels that assurance and confidence in wearing the pieces, the same way I feel in my clothes. I hope the new Trinity collection lives up to that. .