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Cartier Shows Off Style and History at Grand Palais Exhibit in Paris

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If you are looking for things to do in Paris now, don’t miss the Cartier: Style and History, at the Grand Palais, which closes February 16th. Curators from the Grand Palais, Laurent Salome and Laure Dalon, reveal 600 historical pieces including Maharaja bib necklaces with mamouth gems, mystery clocks, tiaras of queens, cigarette cases, bejeweled combs and handbags with panther clasps. There is even an Academician’s sword made for Jean Cocteau.

Cartier's history begins with Louis Cartier in 1847 and continues with his son, also Louis, who relocates the shop to Rue de la Paix, at a very vibrant economical time in Europe, 1899. Of note is the opening of the the Ritz hotel in Place Vendome, very close logistically to the shop. Their history is equally steeped in London where the brothers Cartier had the forethought to expand in 1902, and in New York where they are still housed in a mansion on 5th Ave in 1909.

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There are sections dedicated to their famous clients including, Grace Kelly and Princess Elizabeth but also the lesser known to Americans, Maria Felix, a Mexican actress. She was said to have brought in two live little alligators and asked that they be copied in gold. You can see the cross-biting alligator necklace realized in gold and pave emeralds. Other devotees include Wallis Simpson whose ravishing black and white sepia toned portrait is displayed as she peers into the camera wearing a jeweled headband.

Also of note was the demanding Daisy Fellows who commissioned the most extravagant necklace “ever made.” It's called the “Tutti Frutti,” commissioned in 1936 and comprised of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies. She was known to match her jewels to her clothing, so its no surprise she was hired as a correspondent for Harper’s Bazaar in 1933—a fashion stylist of her day.

After the exhibit, have coffee and an omelette at Le Grand Palais Brasserie. The service is not great, the omelette, fine but somehow one of my favorite places for people watching and a warm table. It's a short walk from the Grand Palais.

Mimi LombardoMimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure’s style director. Packing is rarely easy—we’re here to help. Send your question to tripdoctor@aexp.com

Photo courtesy of Mimi Lombardo (top); Dorine Potel (center)

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