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24 Oct


The Belgian, Jeanne Toussaint. She is Louis Cartier’s “La panthère”.

The IT girl of the 20th century, who knows how to sparkle in Paris. The love of Louis’ life, who makes his heart race, but sometimes winds him up. He adored her aura of grandeur and free spirit, she was addicted to his gentle presence.

The Duke (aka King Edward VIII) (wearing velvet evening jacket, tartan kilts, argyle kneesocks, and buckled shoes) and Duchess of Windsor (aka Wallis Simpson) (wearing sleeveless printed silk dress) sitting on a large club chair and holding their pug dogs; at the Moulin de la Tuilerie, their country home outside Paris, Vogue, 1967 (Guliver Photos/ Getty Images)

Jeanne is the heart of the Cartier empire’s “Light Industry”. They call her the “Coco Chanel of jewellery”. Parisian socialites remember her as the modern Belgian with a curious turban, a long pearl necklace and to wrap it all up – silk Chinese pyjamas. She was the first lady who wear a coat made of panther fur in Paris.

Mlle Jeanne Toussaint, artistic director of Cartier-Paris, in her office in 14th-century Russian-style boots, Vogue, 1967 (Guliver Photos/ Getty Images)

She’s constantly surrounded by cat pelts. On her shoulders or casually lying around her home. Jeanne is a long-distance runner. She scales the slopes of time as quickly as she can in order to beat the clock of fashion. Peculiar, unpredictable and bearing the title of Art Director of the company’s Fine Jewellery department.

Swedish-born actress Anita Ekberg mimics the pose of eating grapes with pieces of diamond Cartier jewelry to show a love for diamonds, 1960s. She leans her head back over the arm of a loveseat and holds the jewelry over her mouth (Guliver Photos/ Getty Images)

She acts like an agile predator in order to impose her taste. She dives boldly into Parisian luxury to write Cartier’s new success formula. While on a safari in Africa, she saw a panther and exclaimed: “Onyx, diamonds, emeralds – a brooch”.  She is obsessed with the animal’s silhouette. She tames it with jewellery techniques, gold and precious gems.

Barbara Hutton at wedding of son, 1960 (Guliver Photos/ Getty Images)

The motif makes its first appearance in 1914 on an onyx and diamond-encrusted watch. After that the panther “pounces” as a lapel brooch on the Duchess of Windsor – Wallis Simpson. It was made of a yellow gold panther with black enamel put on a 90-carat cabochon – cut emerald.

Sotheby’s employee holds an onyx and diamond panther bracelet designed and made by Cartier in 1952, during a preview at Sotheby’s Auction House on July 22, 2010 in London, England. This piece of jewellery is one of a collection going on sale including a selection of iconic jewels belonging to the Duchess of Windsor. The pieces are estimated to fetch in the region of £3 million GBP at the sale, which takes place at Sothebys Auction house on November 30, 2010 in London. (Guliver Photos/ Getty Images)

History remembers this decoration as the “Golden Goose on an emerald”. The Panther finds its way into wealthy heiress and philanthropist Barbara Hutton’s jewellery collection. Model princess Nina Aga Khan even jumps a few “Panther’s lengths” forward, because her husband orders an entire Panther collection.

Thus the “Predator trend” is born in the Cartier kingdom. A symbol of freedom and the “untamed” in the female soul, which is still as contemporary as ever in the world of jewellery, fashion and perfumes.