My personal style signifier is always my watch. Currently I switch between my Cartier Libre bracelet watch and the Crash watch – a design I fell for even before I joined the company. It’s original and singular, a quintessential Cartier design. The Crash was inspired by a Cartier timepiece that had been crushed in an accident, and the Radieuse is an especially creative piece because we “crashed” it twice. It makes me proud to wear it.
The last thing I bought and loved was a natural sapphire, which has an intoxicating blue colour. I like stones that are imperfect. I’m not always a fan of sapphires but this one has such an intense, incredible blue – I didn’t hesitate at all when I bought it.
The place that means a lot to me is Talloires on Lake Annecy in France. I’m a Cancer and I like water; this place, where some of my family live and where I have roots, is especially meditative. There is an old church with views onto the lake where I like to sit, for the silence. It’s simple and easy. Everything is static. Cézanne painted the lake and it always feels like a work of art to me.
My style icon is “La Panthère”, Jeanne Toussaint [Cartier’s artistic director of high jewellery from 1933 to 1970]. She was eccentric and visionary and dared to do things that nobody had done before. The genesis of Cartier is all about this audacity. Toussaint was the first to mix diverse influences and colours, creating harmony with antagonistic elements.
The best gift I’ve received is pastries from Yann Brys, who was once named France’s best craftsman. His pastries are so beautiful and refined. He creates not only the recipes and pastry, but also the moulds. He’s an artist and sculptor.
The last music I downloaded was “Le Jeune” by QuinzeQuinze, for the hypnotic drum beats, and “Feather” by Nujabes, for its flow and the introspective mood it creates. My tastes and inspirations change often, but these two songs remain in heavy rotation.
In my fridge you’ll always find niche red wines from Languedoc, some Cantal cheese for nibbling and 10 varieties of mustard. My grandmother served Cantal at every meal. The wines I like for their generous and fruity notes but also the small domaines such as Le Loup dans la Bergerie. As for the mustard, I’ve always been a fan – I grew up eating spicy African food and when I returned to France I wanted to find something to compete with these flavours. It’s fun to see how inventive the French can be with a simple product.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Sur les Chemins Noirs by Sylvain Tesson, a story about resilience, returning to nature and silence. It’s a metaphor about accidents and the path life can sometimes take. Tesson writes like a poet with so much humility. It gives you faith for the future.
I’ve recently rediscovered the pleasure of a morning coffee at the counter of a French bistrot. So simple, so satisfying. My favourite is Le Saint-Gervais – it’s authentic and close to a pretty square. 96 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris
An indulgence I would never forgo is curiosity. It lets me indulge in discovery – and in life. I try to let my curiosity run wild as often as possible, whether that’s visiting a museum or plunging myself into nature. I’ve set up my studio to be a place that welcomes a spirit of inquiry. It is calm and full of light, with a warm atmosphere.
The podcast I’m listening to is Le Masque et la Plume by France Inter. I like the critics’ vast knowledge – on art, theatre, everything – but if I’m honest, I really love the scathing humour. It’s very Parisian. It’s caustic, politically incorrect and makes me laugh.
In another life, I would have been a dancer. I danced six hours a week until I was 30. Dance elevates emotion in a way that has always moved me. It’s in you – it’s a way to express and to test many things.
The last accessory I added to my wardrobe was an embroidered headband made by my good friend Aurélie Lanoiselée. She’s a genius in terms of embroidery, and has really invented her own techniques. The headband has two sides and you can wear it in multiple ways. It’s a small piece of fabric but so precious in how it’s made.
An object I would never part with is my books, and Le Penseur, by Kouka, a young French-Congolese contemporary artist. His work centres on the quest for identity and origin, with his thinker a Bantu warrior who represents universal man.
My favourite location is Jeanne Lanvin’s bathroom at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Created in the 1920s by Armand-Albert Rateau, it reveals the artist’s taste for Persian antiquity by mixing rare materials, like the marble that recalls hammams and ancient baths. I like its eclecticism; for me, beauty resides in the ability to create harmony with elements of various – and sometimes antagonistic – origins. Every detail in this bathroom has meaning. It’s the definition of chic.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Claire Tabouret. She was my first art crush when I came across her about 20 years ago. Her work hit me like a thunderbolt. It was old-fashioned in a way, her portraits going beyond the simple face of the subjects. They create an emotion that combines seriousness with beauty, plus she works on themes close to my heart, such as her Migrants series.
The best bit of advice I ever received was that humility and doubt are creation’s best allies. You must question yourself and imagine all the options. This is how I try to create with my team. Only after trying everything can I say yes. It’s not just about creating something decorative but about adding sense to what you make.
The thing I couldn’t do without is silence. Most days it is a precious commodity, so I have to seek it out. I need silence to reflect and create.
The works of art that changed everything for me were Pierre Soulages and his “Beyond Black” paintings. To create so many different emotions, paintings and textures around one colour is incredible. I draw a parallel with watches, which is about creating under constraints. Soulages took on a complex challenge – to create something new every time on the same subject.
I have a collection of jewellery from all over the world. I buy them on my travels – I love vintage pieces, especially rings from the art deco period and the 1970s, but it’s more about how it’s made. And the stone.
Some of my best ideas have come in the middle of the night. My creative process kicks into gear during my sleep. I think my brain analyses the day’s experiences then rearranges them like a puzzle. I try not to question the process too much, and instead appreciate that it happens.