The city lights were shining a luxurious shade of red in Sydney on Wednesday night, and there was no denying the star of the show. On the corner of King and George Street – one of the city's most desirable locations – a celebration of history, vision, opulence and of course love, sprawled out onto the streets of Sydney's most in-demand luxury district. The source? 388 George Street; the home of Cartier Australia's highly-anticipated, newly-opened flagship boutique. And boy, was it quite the evening.
Earlier in the week, we were treated to our first sneak peak at the milestone boutique, but truly, nothing could prepare us for what lies within the two-storey landmark. Upon arrival, the Maison's signature shade of red took over the footpath and surrounding areas, transforming the space into an exclusive, VIP cocktail hour that led straight into exploring the new flagship. Guests and friends of the Maison excitedly made their way inside, greeted by a space that speaks so perfectly to Cartier's values: honouring the local landscape and environment, an acknowledgement of heritage, forward-thinking vision and of course, art and creativity in all its forms.
First to see the boutique on the night was none other than the extraordinary Nakkiah Lui, who as expected, was dripping in Cartier brilliance, courtesy of the jeweller's incredible Indomptables collection. A collection that unites the iconic Cartier panther with a striking zebra, Lui exuded the signature Cartier magnificence that was felt throughout the entire boutique.
"I almost cried when I was getting dressed this afternoon, because the pieces I'm wearing are such symbols of power and feel so significant to the Maison's values and our relationship," she shared.
"I think often as an Aboriginal woman, your kind of strength can be seen as maybe a disruption or a threat in society, so to have a House like Cartier not only acknowledge my passion and strength, but also celebrate it not only through their words but their actions extremely special.
"There's a real abundance on the horizon for Cartier, and this boutique really expresses that with its connection to our country's rich history, while still embodying an excitement for what's to come."
Stealing an intimate moment with Sydney Dance Company's artistic director, and friend of the Maison, Rafael Bonachela on the evening, Cartier's celebration and fierce championing of Australia's rich and talented arts community is something he feels unspeakably grateful to be a part of.
"In many ways, I am very proud to be a friend of the Maison, and to be contributing to this very significant moment in time for Cartier in Australia, and the world, really," he expressed.
"Cartier really has always embodied this desire, nurturing and fostering of the arts from its inception, and of course, the beauty and connection between artists and creatives and the Maison. This store is an unbelievably bold statement in the heart of Sydney city, and it's very special that they were able to bring together a variety of different Australian artists from across the country to not only contribute to the boutique, but the celebration tonight too."
It's a commitment between Cartier and Sydney Dance Company that company artist Emily Seymour feels honoured to experience, sharing that the opportunity to perform on the evening of Cartier's flagship boutique launch is not only a career highlight, but an acknowledgement of the value of dance and art in our lives.
"As a performer, it is so hard to feel that you've done the right thing, and be acknowledged for the art form that we work towards every single day. We work endlessly, day in, day out blood, sweat and tears definitely goes into this art form and to be recognised and acknowledged, for our hard work is quite special."
"There's nothing better than getting the response from the audience and the environment around us that we are performing for. It's moments like tonight that remind me why I dance," she continued.
The performance Seymour mentions is a section from one of Bonachela's past works, titled Impermanence. The piece, as Bonachela described it to me earlier in the evening, looks to the philosophical and natural concept of change; charting the trajectory of evolution and the beauty that often follows devastation. But, more on that later – the guests have officially arrived!
Some of the evening's freshest faces, including Ruel, Jessica Gomes, Budjerah Slabb, Victoria Lee, Isabella Manfredi and more made their way across the truly Cartier red carpet, but it was when the evening's surprise international guest, Labrinth, made his entrance, that we knew the night was really getting started.
Before long, guests were escorted to the evening's secret, second location – the iconic Hyde Park Barracks – for a night in Paris under the stars. The Maison's instantly recognisable, emblematic bellboys lined the entrance, greeting guests as the evening of luxury continued. A custom fine-dining bistro experience, Bistro 388, lit up one side of the barracks, with guests able to indulge in a synergistic fusion of Australia’s fresh coastal treasures and the ambiance of fine French dining. While on the other side, a relaxing cocktail bar served custom Cartier cocktails throughout the night.
Sydney Dance Company artists took to the stage for a mesmerising performance that married dance with an incredible digital projection that had guests staring in awe, before the surprise mirror doors to Club Cartier opened to reveal the night's final destination. Australian DJ Anna Lunoe welcomed guests in with an energetic set that set the tone for what was to come, warming the stage before Labrinth emerged in a striking pink suit and Cartier jewels to take us home. The dance floor hot to the touch after a forty minute set that brought out the Euphoria stans in all of us, Labrinth had us buzzing and ready for more.
Where to next? It could only be Paris.
Below, Olivia Repaci captured some of the night's most memorable moments – from incredible boutique details to dance floor decadence.