There’s an unparalleled magic that comes with the ability to transform the ordinary. Evolving from a commitment to unearthing the potential behind the simplest of circumstances, it’s a pursuit that ignites a feverish desire to break the rules; embracing what was previously forbidden or unconventional. A reminder to see the beauty wherever it’s found – and often, where it’s least expected – luxury French jeweller, Cartier, has long been inspired by the disciplines of vision and curiosity, and with the Maison’s reissuing of its unforgettable Grain de Café collection this year, this synergy between the ordinary and the precious has never felt more distinct.
For the uninitiated, the now iconic collection was first conceptualised from the Maison’s coffee bean motif, which first appeared in Cartier’s collections in 1938 and rose to considerable popularity in the 1950s and 60s. Under the impetus of Jeanne Toussaint, who was the jeweller’s creative director from 1933 to 1970, the symbol became an unwavering source of inspiration, merging Cartier’s inexhaustible vocabulary of nature with the touch of a jeweller’s eye; resulting in a collection that is rebellious, free and sophisticated. During a period where disruptive creativity was becoming stagnant, Toussaint’s Grain de Café was deliberate in its celebration of mobility – both in the physical and in the spirit of the collection.
Intentionally crafted with the purpose of being reimagined over time, the collection spoke to the Maison’s stylistic repertoire at its core. Both in its design integrity and in the women throughout history who have adopted Grain de Café as their armour, one thing has remained true – the charismatic aura that surrounds the pieces has never once wavered.
Beginning with Toussaint herself, who nobly believed in the wealth of the universe that existed within the humble coffee bean, to one of the collection’s earliest wearers, Grace Kelly, Grain de Café has continued as an alluring and sensual expression of creativity that unites the French Riviera with the chic opulence of the 1950s. With this legacy front of mind, it was only fitting that when Cartier embarked on the journey of reimagining the timeless collection in a contemporary setting, American actor and Ambassador of the Maison, Elle Fanning, was undeniably the face to lead the way.
An enduring icon of the era, the duality of elegance and realworld glamour she possesses cemented her as one to watch from the very beginning. And as the face of the Grain de Café collection, she inspires a unity between Cartier’s historic craftsmanship and the modern wearer.
“I love that the Grain de Café collection is so rich with history and embodies a timeless elegance that will never go out of style,” Fanning told RUSSH. “Also, immortalising the humble coffee bean in gold is a great reminder to find beauty in the unexpected.”
“I love that Cartier is taking inspiration from and honouring their past by bringing those pieces to the modern audience. It is so important for all of us to reflect and learn from history.” It’s a sentiment that Fanning carries beautifully; a natural connection to the collection’s blueprint that still holds true to this day.
When you admire the trajectory and evolution of Grain de Café over the decades, it’s impossible to
ignore the comfort with which Fanning wears the pieces – both from the vintage collection (of which she was adorned in at the 2023 Met Gala), and in the Maison’s luscious interpretation, which will include a reissuing of a necklace originally dating from 1955.
The collection’s campaign is a masterful continuation of this, showcasing the savoir-faire codes of the collection through the lens of American director Alex Prager to bring to life the unique flora through movement, mastery of volumes and light and gold work.
“We shot the campaign over two days, overlooking the sparkling Croatian sea. I felt like I was living out my dream, dressed as a film star from the past,” Fanning reminisced. “For the images, we paired the Grain de Café pieces with a white dress similar to the one Grace Kelly wore in To Catch a Thief. We wanted to pay homage while still staying true to me. I was on cloud nine the entire time!”
Spanning a collection of rings, pendants, necklaces, earrings and brooches, the sensual curves of the pieces wrap Fanning like a second skin. The movement of endlessly sparkling clusters, an invitation to touch and feel as the radiance and shimmer of the pure, solar and absolute gold paired with fiery diamonds dances on the skin. One might imagine it would be difficult to pick a favourite piece from the collection, but Fanning has found her perfect match.
“The Grain de Café necklace with yellow gold and white gold is so easy to wear because it has both colour golds and I really like to mix it with my other gold Cartier or white gold Cartier.”
A symbol of creative freedom that transcends the literal translation of nature into the sphere of multisensory design, Grain de Café reminds us to take pleasure in the embellishing of the ordinary.