To be a guest at last night’s party at Cartier, where celebrities, socialites and art world luminaries feted the house’s 100 years in America, was to forget for a moment that a pandemic had just been declared, Chrysler had just filed for bankruptcy and the world was still in the throes of the great recession. Luxury is, after all, a dream and what better place to fall under its spell than the historic mansion on Fifth Avenue, the one Pierre Cartier so famously purchased with a double strand of natural pearls and $100?
It was a big deal of a night. My first hint? The pack of paparazzi waiting with baited breath beside the red carpet (which I practically sprinted down in a fit of desperation to get out of the spotlight). Inside, the crowd was so dense that I actually brushed up against Justin Timberlake as we both peered into the same showcase of vintage Cartier watches. Wearing geek-chic glasses and a crumpled blazer, he only had eyes for Jessica Biel, who looked every bit as curvaceous and appealing as she does in the movies.
Eva Mendes blew by in a silvery sheath of a dress. She was alone, feverishly pecking away at her phone, and it occurred to me that in an atmosphere like that, a star like her must feel awfully awkward without an entourage.
Martha Stewart looked elegant in an all-black ensemble, Russell Simmons was dapper and Rachel Weisz gorgeous and oh so skinny. But where on earth were Elton John and Kate Hudson?! I know they were there, but why didn’t I see them?
I know why. I was too enthralled with the jewels, the champagne and the book, Cartier I Love You, assembled by photographer Bruce Weber to celebrate the Cartier century, to notice much of anything—except, perhaps, the bejeweled ghosts of Gloria Vanderbilt and Doris Duke hovering above the room, clinking champagne flutes and smiling.