mythical ambrosia favoured by Greek gods as they loitered above the clouds on Mount Olympus
photography & words SHINI PARK created for CARTIER

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The lifts at Fondation Cartier pour L’Art Contamporain glide up without hesitation, gradually lending a slightly more scenic view over the 14th arrondissement at each level. The hubbub of the foyer is long since muffled as I step off onto the top floor and into the office/laboratory of Cartier in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent. Later I would realise, that this 20-second ascension would be more symbolic of this brief stint to Paris than any souvenir I dare brought home.

The office is through a set of corridors and the laboratory itself, and I can’t help but observe the distinct lack of smell, or scent, until I reach Mathilde’s light-swathed office. “Sorry, I’d hoped it would be sunny for you!” she says entering, beaming, with a box of Ladurée macarons in her hands. She is like a friend I haven’t seen in a long time.

And despite the twenty-four fragrances developed under her tenure – L’Envol de Cartier being the latest – the office doesn’t boast one in particular. None, rather. At the same time it triggers an explosion of senses.

There are philosophical quotes on the windows hand-written by Mathilde herself; plants – dry, cut, fresh, amongst vials and tester arms from the laboratory; and behind her desk, a collection of shoes and magazines – glittery Miu Mius and gold-painted Converses. The space has a Phillipe Starck-like sense of humour. In the meantime, Mathilde nurses a pot of Juk-ro (죽로차] (a South Korean black tea from bamboo leaf) that she calls her drug. The earthy, almost cake-like smell of the tea mixes with the crisp November air that seeps in from the open balcony door and all my senses stir awake.

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My genius is in my nostrils
– Nietzsche

We talk about macarons (she has my favourite: orange blossom), her daughter, and intuition. She waves me over to her desk where she brings over a stack of Cartier signature red jewellery boxes and points at one labelled XI – aptly named, L’Heure Perdue, and launches a stunning video clip that illustrates the scent as I inhale the inside of the box. “It smells like a warm hug”, I say sheepishly. and then learn that this overtly human, emotional scent was composed using only molecular ingredients.

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There is something mythological, and abstract about her approach to her work in fragrance. Her eleven years at Guerlain and the eleven now at Cartier would attest to that – her latest creation L’Envol is perhaps the perfect embodiment. Inspired by ‘Hydromel’, the immortality mead of Olympian gods and theoretically designed for men, L’Envol is not a caricature of masculinity. It is an embodiment of intuition, bravery and the split-second of panic/elation when something takes flight – a wild idea perhaps, or a hot air balloon. The fragrance blends Gaiac wood with notes of honey on intense musk and patchouli, and is presented in a refillable bottle; another tribute to the Cartier belief that every one of its objects should last forever.

As I say goodbye to Mathilde and make my descent to catch my taxi back to the station, I feel as I’ve stolen away a vial of liquid luck from the clouds.

A waist-high black panther guards Laurent’s office

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“Listen to your instincts when you buy perfume, it has the power to set you free.”

– Mathilde Laurent

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Necklace – Cartier Amulette

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You know what they say, if you’ve done a round of Scrabble, it’s time for some Charades and beers. Then Karaoke. Then more beers. A plate of quesadilla too if you can distinguish pan from pot. If not, just toss everything into a bucket of KFC Assorted Wings and eat it with a ladle, it all looks the same when it comes out as chunks later. Who says that? I don’t know, probably somebody famous, and fabulous. Somebody last Friday night maybe, who may or may not have had one too many glasses of boxed wine, who sang Swan Princess until the cops showed up at the door. DEREK! YOU AND I WERE MEANT TO BE…

…it took exactly one year and two months to muster up the courage to put this up here for you to see.

I digress. Ladies and gentlefolk, welcome to the charades and karaoke part of the night. Everything is downhill from here. If you’ve been following this blog for the past eight years, you know I’ve shuffled a LOT of shameless face cards and tiled many a Scrabble board with bad grammar and nonsensical rants. It was only time that we moved the party onto the singing and dancing part*.

UNLOCK • Watch the full video below

In all frankness, it took exactly one year and two months – to the day – to muster up the courage to put this up here for you to see. One rainy Sunday in June 2015, I took two buses to get to the On.Cut studio shack up in Hendon, and within about 20 minutes of warm-up** and a packet of Cheesy Dorito’s, we got to recording. At Emarr at the helm, song practically wrote itself. Jam mixed it on the spot. Ten days later we shot the video under an incredibly menstrual July sky and amidst a field of lavender. I could barely remember the words.

It’s not a Billboard topper, heck, it’s shower singing at best, but it’s a small dream come true. Thanks are due to Cartier’s relentless support, to my assistant Simon (who judges Rihanna yet curiously reserves comments on my wailing) and to hidden talents like Emarr & Jam… here’s Unlock.***

* More on Snapchat (ID Sparkncube) and Instagram Stories
** Basically yelling ‘WOW. WOW. WAW. WAAAW’ until the dudes say that’s not really a thing.
*** On hindsight, let’s all pretend that blue smoke grenade is a gassy Pokemon in the wild, and not a hipster filming gimmick that I thought was a great idea at the time. AIN’T IT SO 2015.

Dress – Zara. Shirt – ASOS. Hat – Zara (similar).

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Dress – Razan Alazzouni

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creative direction SHINI PARK photography assistance SIMON SCHMIDT music produced by & MUSICBYJAM video directed by EMARR produced by CUBE COLLECTIVE in collaboration with CARTIER

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creative direction SHINI PARK photo assistance SIMON SCHMIDT created for CARTIER

Amulette de Cartier: pink gold, malachite, diamond

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I want young women to discuss the difference of beauty in Krispy Kreme vs Dunkin Donuts, stop hauling, and find some context in life.

Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that with my impending immigration across to the next age-box I am also slowly packing my bags for an ever titillating journey of ‘age-induced casual offensiveness’ that get oh-so-entertaining when fully ripe. If I smoked I might as well be a Parisian. Thirty-something, speaks her mind without the Chihuahua-quiver of a young-un’ or the fear of judgement, and a slight potty mouth… what a GLORIOUS prospect. Granted, I don’t mean to imply that age is the only factor that affects one’s frankness (some people – like my mother – were born with balls) (OK strike that), but my journey of expression seems to mature with age. Alas, I am also a Korean and hence inherently age-ist, which means I use the word ‘mature’ like I would when describing cheese, and isn’t mature cheese really just an older, stinkier version we all put up with…

For the time being, I’m enjoying sticking the proverbial hand out the window to test the weather before the journey – everyone and everything is subject to an inappropriate joke. (“Sorry, are you poor?”) The typical week at the Cube Collective office is divided into Monday, Ageist Tuesday, Insult Wednesday, Sexist Thursday, and Bloggerist Fridays. My PA suffers on all days but Friday, which is when we order a pizza and howl over badly written blog entries on the intranets. Truth is, while I joke, I do believe said political frankness helps a great deal in refining one’s outlook in becoming a critical adult because it turns silent slander (where inappropriate really is, literally, inappropriate) into constructive criticism lined with some brand of humour that challenges people to grow.

#UnlockYourWish

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Lace top – Zara. Skirt – Milly. Necklace – Cartier.

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top ELLERY trousers RAZAN ALAZZOUNI necklace CARTIER

We inhabit the age of compulsive digital expression rife with passive positivity, so passive that the landscape is flattened for newcomers – no novice will know and appreciate the difference between Vuitton and Vetements because their heroes chant “I love my FROW seat and the show was beautiful”. How is EVERYTHING beautiful, pray tell? Mauritius might as well be Cambodia according to our non-review reviews. Maldives is seriously pissed off for being compared to yet another white beach.

Instead of contriving a Disneyfied story about some farfetched personal ambition to accompany this collaboration with Amulette de Cartier #UnlockyourWish, here’s my real wish, unabridged: I want young women to discuss the difference of beauty in Krispy Kreme vs Dunkin Donuts, stop hauling, and find some context. It’s a whole lot more interesting to see aspirational women who want to make a difference in the world, who also happens to love fashion. Being a blogger for the sake of being a blogger (or God forbid, money) will leave you in an emotional, if not professional, bind in less than five years – take my word.

And enough duckface snaps, HONESTLY. Happy Insult Wednesday, all.

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Cartier, hailed as the “king of jewellers, jeweller of kings,” by King Edward VII, is also king of stories (say this ten times faster). For what is an engagement ring without the story of two? Or a 69.42-carat pear diamond without the on & off-screen saga between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor? Come with me to explore the Cartier arsenal of real-life fairy tales that transform rock into diamond…
art direction SHINI PARK photography & styling TEAM PARK & CUBE in collaboration with Cartier
Necklace – Galanterie de Cartier. Dress – Jonathan Simkhai

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It’s not a secret that we – namely Millenials, the ‘Y’ or Peter Pan generation – have a thirst for summaries, a Cliff’s Notes version of unashamedly long, winding, heart-breaking-and-waking stories with valiant heroes and fearless heroines. How many times has J.K Rowling lifted and dropped our hearts with every page turn? Heck, now it’s all about 140-character notes and #nofilter squares that somehow boil down to a point when squinted hard enough, and those blasted abbreviations, because there’s no time at all to LOL IRL since YOLO, apparently. So you’ll agree, stories are worth its weight in gold, or diamonds.

London saw, in its final week of November, a hailstorm of leaves that left the city’s canopies bare and vulnerable to the elements. And snow it did, in the form of a Le Diamant, a private exhibition at Philips displaying rare, diamond-clad treasures from the Cartier archive as part of its travelling Tradition collection and the new art-deco inspired range Galanterie de Cartier. It was by sheer chance that we caught the spectacle.

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LOVE Bracelet, Pink and white gold diamonds

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If love is fleeting, haphazard and possibly a string of coincidences, according to Kundera (The Unbearable lightness of being, 1984), then this must be love – this implausible set of accidents that have led for the Galanterie de Cartier necklace to be looped around my neck, and thus being a part of the Cartier story, albeit for a fleeting moment.

The Pur Absolu necklace worn by Karen Elson in the dazzling Christmas campaign, along with the Tradition collection, will be on sale in Cartier New Bond Street boutique for a month.

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…hailed as the “king of jewellers, jeweller of kings,” by King Edward VII

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Above: Core range in diamonds. Left: Necklace – Galanterie de Cartier. Dress – Jonathan Simkhai

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Sleeping is just time travel to breakfast = yes/no?

Let’s say yes. Not because it’s the correct answer (it is), but for part two of Winter Tale with Cartier, I envisioned a sunny morning of Christmas Day, crisp winter breeze cutting through a crack in the window letting this cynic-turned-Christmas-Elf know that the breakfast she’s about to wake up to is extra special. Nevermind the gifts, for now, it’s the fact that today, the members that have gathered to celebrate with you have nothing else on their itineraries. No meetings, no computers, no phones. All replaced by whim, tradition, and a good dose of ambling in between.

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Sweater – H&M. All jewellery - Cartier ‘Juste un Clou’

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Even as a innate sceptic I’ve always loved Christmas mornings: waking up to the smell of my mother cooking Korean food, and my father cleaning out the car – some years there would be fluffy snow, some years not – and a huge, hearty breakfast, served on the big wooden table in the kitchen as to accommodate for quick exit so that we can load up and make it to church on time. Gifts were usually exchanged in the evening over fruit and dessert, and since for some unknown reason we had stopped putting up a tree since around year 2000 (them Y2K silver tinsels didn’t do anyone any good), gifts would appear out of nowhere. And every year we’d discover, that mother hiding gifts in the fridge, inside what looked like kimchi containers, is the work of a true artist.

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While unfortunately I will not be joining my family this year, I will be rockin’ around the…  Aloe Vera tree with the hubby and bringing a bit of my own tradition from home. I may however, be forced to re-think the gifts-in-kimchee-container tactic unless I want to spend Christmas in A&E with the hubby choking on a Grooming kit because I GUARANTEE HE WILL TRY TO EAT IT IF IT’S IN THE FRIDGE.

I’m not signing off just yet, but I wish you all the magic and happiness over the holidays, and who knows, maybe a red box from the sky? Pray the cubs are playing rough this year.

And to all my fellow cynics out there: have a whiskey, open a gift or two. Relax.

In collaboation with Cartier. (Read Part 1 here) Art Direction – Park & Cube. Photography – KrisAtomic. Location – Blake’s Hotel

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