The celebration for Cartier’s Panthère and Santos collections was billed as a “Bold and Fearless Night,” and both of those qualities were on ample display in San Francisco on Thursday evening as the Parisian luxury purveyor pulled out all the stops. Not even a constant drizzle outside could tame last night’s festivities.
Walking onto a remote pier on the city’s waterfront, guests brushed off the rain and stepped into a magical, mysterious world—crafted, perhaps, to resemble the intricate interior of an ornate Panthère watch, complete with whirring, vaguely industrial sounds and hallucinatory lights emanating through a maze of long, winding, darkened corridors. A final walkway was ablaze in red LED lights exclaiming variants of the word “Innovation”—the ethos of the collections being fêted, and a nod to the night’s spiritual guest of honor, aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont. In Brazil, the storied airman is celebrated as the first human to fly an airplane, even before the Wright Brothers and their glider (although the timeline is disputed). Santos-Dumont certainly embodied the “Bold and Fearless” theme, and when he circumnavigated the Eiffel tower in 1906, he wore a custom-made Cartier watch on his wrist.
But—back to the party.
Beyond the corridor of innovation, guests encountered a cavernous hangar. Beams of blue and red light glanced off mirrored walls, casting a pleasant glow on the elegant clusters of people beginning to congregate inside—while, over the water, Leo Villareal’s majestic Bay Bridge installation extended the light show into the distance. More revelers entered the hall, until there were enough black-clad Parisians to populate multiple blue-chip Art Basel soirées.
Soon, the massive venue began to swell with well-heeled crowds populated by San Francisco’s elite: the beautiful, the venture-capital-backed, the Tinseltown-famous, the society set, the Mission collectives. The outfits became a little more colorful, a bit more outrageous, as Hot Chip, the evening’s musical opening act, drew the throngs nearer to the stage. As rivers of French champagne flowed, heads began bopping to the upbeat British band’s brand of blippy electro-tunes. Jagged mirrored protrusions jutted from the stage, reflecting the pulsating energy below.
By the time the shaggy-haired Kitsuné rockers Phoenix took to the stage, the party had officially commenced. The affable model-actor Jason Momoa hoisted a beer in one hand, while the other led his radiant wife Lisa Bonet through the energetic crowd. The “Breaking Bad” actor Aaron Paul—in black tie—goofed around with a spirited pal. In the back, Jake Gyllenhaal kept one eye on the stage while chatting with a brunette. Gagosian ambassador Derek Blasberg was hard at work, charming the glitterati as usual. By the time British DJ Jamie XX took control of the system, the “Bold and Fearless” night had blossomed into a full-fledged waterfront discotheque.
It’s a testament to the evening’s broader allure that the cool kids from the other side of the Bay also wanted in on the festivities. Oakland denizen Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi, fresh off giving a Cartier-sponsored talk nearby, could be seen deep in conversation with Chloë Sevigny, who sported a chic floral frock reminiscent of her Big Love days. Indie darling Tony Peppers, of Astronauts Etc. (and also from Oakland), lurked in the shadows nearby. Asked what had brought him out across the Bay on a rainy evening, he extracted a plump Cartier pen from his friend Chaz’s pocket and scrawled something on the back of a napkin. It read: “The Smile Nexus.” It was a poetic description of a memorable night.
Below, more images from the star-studded event.
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