Elle Fanning, Vanessa Kirby Fete Cartier High Jewelry in Florence

FLORENCE — “Jewelry is such an incredibly important part of any look. It’s like the cherry on top: It makes your outfit stand out and [be] complete.”

So believes Cartier ambassador Elle Fanning, who arrived at the Cartier gala dinner at the Giardino Corsini location here on Wednesday following a standout fashion moment at the Cannes Film Festival last week.

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After hitting the French Riviera wearing a custom-made Alexander McQueen gown with a pale pink tulle skirt and orchid-shaped corset bodice as well as a silver Paco Rabanne party dress designed by Julien Dossena, Fanning opted for an extra-high updo and a vintage look for the celebrations of Cartier’s new high jewelry collection. Her Oscar de la Renta spring 1993 black gown with a ruffled tulle skirt had two floral appliqués that matched the choker she picked for the soirée — one embellished with a magnolia flower-shaped diamond piece hailing from Cartier’s collection that was revealed earlier on Wednesday.

“For me, wearing jewelry is so empowering and an extension of your creativity, because it’s an expression of who you are and each person wears it in a different way,” said Fanning, who works with stylist Samantha McMillen and completed her beauty look with black eyeliner and rosy cheeks.

Fanning officially joined the Cartier family earlier this month, when she was appointed as global ambassador and face of its Grain de Café collection. Inspired by the shape of a coffee bean, this was launched in 1938 by creative director Jeanne Toussaint and was elevated to fame in the ’50s by Audrey Hepburn and its most famous wearer, Princess Grace of Monaco.

Fanning highlighted that the campaign she fronted paid homage to the latter, who’s “always been someone that I’ve looked up to.”

Elle Fanning wearing an Oscar de la Renta spring 1993 black gown to match a Cartier high jewelry choker.

After joining fellow Cartier ambassadors Vanessa Kirby, Golshifteh Farahani and Pom Klementieff, as well as guests including Labrinth, Adrien Brody and Georgina Chapman, at the Florentine event, the actress said she planned to visit her sister Dakota before press commitments for the third season of her Hulu series “The Great” kickoff. In the show, Fanning plays Empress Catherine II, a role for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series as well as two Golden Globe nominations in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy category.

Kirby, meanwhile, is set to star as Empress Josephine in Ridley Scott’s upcoming historical drama movie “Napoleon” opposite Joaquin Phoenix, as well as release the new installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise in which she stars. The English actress touched down in Florence for the first time as a member of Cartier stable after she was named face of the brand’s new La Panthère perfume campaign in April.

Wearing a diamond necklace embellished with a series of cabochon emeralds and matching earrings, Kirby said she felt honored when called to embody the spirit animal of the jewelry house because it represents a wild femininity.

Vanessa Kirby at the Cartier high jewelry event in Florence.
Vanessa Kirby at the Cartier high jewelry event in Florence.

“It’s not frilly, it’s not trying to be sexy, it’s just sensual and wild and primal. And I thought ‘God, that’s such an amazing energy to represent’,” said the actress, who in the campaign appears in a tropical forest and transforms into her feline alter ego.

“When we went to shoot the campaign, we went in the middle of the jungle, in the boiling heat, really cold swamps and lagoons and we were right in nature and it took me a couple of days to really let go and kind of really lean into that wild energy,” she recalled. “And at the end of the week I felt completely different because it had reminded me you don’t have to worry about what you look like or the outside, but think about the inside.…And I realized that even in cinema, my favorite performances are those of raw femininity,” continued Kirby.

To further create space for this kind of role in the industry and for female-centric stories in general, Kirby cofounded the London-based production company Aluna Entertainment, which inked a multiyear first-look deal with Netflix in 2021. Incidentally, the streamer is home to “The Crown,” in which Kirby played Princess Margaret, and picked up Kornél Mundruczó’s 2020 drama “Pieces of a Woman,” for which she received Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Award nominations and won the Coppa Volpi for best actress at the Venice Film Festival.

A moment of the Cartier high jewelry show in Florence.
A moment of the Cartier high jewelry show in Florence.

“We’ve been going on a year and development takes a while…but we have 15 projects now and we’re just about to announce our first one next week,” said Kirby, keeping details under wraps.

“You realize when you watch movies how few female-experienced films there are because they’ve been mostly written by men in the industry,” she continued. “When I did ‘Pieces of a Woman,’ which has this long birth take in it, I had to research and watched all the films that had tried to have birth [takes] in them and none had it kind of unedited or unsanitized and really how it was. And I thought we’ve seen so many deaths on screen and hardly any births, and that’s because women haven’t been writing.

“So it’s been so moving to go and find the female writers and creatives, give them a space and platform and find ideas with them. And we’re so excited about what we’re going to announce because there’s so much space to be able to now put them on screen and the journeys that we’ve never seen before. That’s my reason I get up every morning,” added the actress.

In an interview with WWD earlier on Wednesday, Cartier International’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer Arnaud Carrez underscored Kirby’s commitment in social and environmental topics, restating that the brand looks at building meaningful relationships with its ambassadors rather than chasing social media reach.

“We’re obsessed about bringing sense and having convergence in terms of value.…We want to build long-term relationships with people who have something to say, who have convictions, opinions and talents in their respective domains of expertise,” said Carrez.

Kirby’s role as a muse of the brand was also addressed in the brief speech Cartier’s president and chief executive officer Cyrille Vigneron gave at the beginning of the gala dinner. This came in between a runway show of the most emblematic pieces of the new high jewelry collection and a live performance al fresco by Labrinth, who was also on his first trip to Florence.

A moment of the Cartier high jewelry show in Florence.
A moment of the Cartier high jewelry show in Florence.

For the occasion, the musician took the piano in a dark suit accessorized with a couple of eye-catching bejeweled brooches from the brand, which added to another piece of jewelry that holds a special meaning to him. “My lady bought me a small necklace with a prayer on it for protection. I carry it with me everywhere, I don’t take it off,” he said.

Asked about working with Cartier, Labrinth specifically indicated the attention to detail the brand puts into its work as “a value I hold close to my heart when writing music.”

Speaking of, the artist recently released his third album, “Ends & Begins,” and, after hitting Coachella, he will be busy playing other select festivals this year as well as shoot music videos.

After singing a mix of his hits and new songs for the Cartier guests, the musician left the stage to an unexpected DJ set by Adrien Brody, which finished off the night.

The scene at the Cartier high jewelry after-dinner party with Adrien Brody.
The scene at the Cartier high jewelry after-dinner party with Adrien Brody.

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