A Reason to Celebrate: Fashion Brands Transcending the Times

By Stephanie Wilson

These brands prove that true luxury can transcend the times.


An inordinate number of luxury brands have reason to celebrate today, despite the sagging economy. This year marks some mighty big anniversaries and birthdays for some of the world’s most celebrated luxury brands. We thought it apropos to wish them a Happy Birthday from Haute Living by taking a look at their celebrated pasts.

 The book, by teNeues Publishing Company, will go on sale in Cartier boutiques on June 16, 2009, and a portion of the proceeds will go to ServiceNation non-profit coalition.

100th Anniversary
Founded: 1909
Founder: Pierre Cartier

Company’s History The American Cartier is an extension of an already established Parisian brand called “Rue de la Paix”. One hundred years ago, Pierre Cartier, the second of three Cartier brothers, crossed the ocean to set up shop on New York’s Fifth Avenue, opting to christen the store after the family name. Pierre presented the family’s beautiful creations to an American audience, who were totally won over by the intricate beauty of the stones and the settings.

Join the Celebration by viewing the collection. Cartier is displaying a retrospective exhibition titled “Cartier…100 Years of Passion and Free Spirit in America.” The range of jewels shown are a part of Cartier’s history, many on loan from notable clients, collectors, and museums, and also from the private archives of the Cartier Collection, which was founded in 1983 and boasts more than 1,200 items made by Cartier since the 19th century.

Exhibited at the landmark Fifth Avenue Mansion, and later at the Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive boutique, these creations will be displayed alongside some precious objects like Dame Elizabeth Tailor’s La Peregrina mid-16th century pearl on a natural pearl, ruby, and diamond necklace; Princess Grace’s Poodle-clip brooch, in platinum and diamonds, created in 1958; and other priceless objets d’art.

If you can’t make it to either of the boutiques for the exhibition, iconic photographer Bruce Weber has assembled Cartier I Love You, a memorable book featuring pictures and drawings from archives, glamorous black and white and color photographs, collages, and illustrations that epitomize the highly original vision of Cartier. The documents from Cartier’s archives in Paris are intermingled with images from Weber’s personal photography collection, transmitting an inspired vision of Cartier’s aesthetic adventure throughout its century in America. The book, by teNeues Publishing Company, will go on sale in Cartier boutiques on June 16, 2009, and a portion of the proceeds will go to ServiceNation non-profit coalition.

125th Anniversary
Founded: 1884
Founder: Sotirio Bulgari

Company’s History The Bulgaris descend from an ancient family of Greek silversmiths, whose trade began in a small village of Epirus, where Sotirio, the company founder, manufactured precious silver objects. In the late 19th century, Sotirio moved to Italy, and in 1884 he opened his first shop in Rome. That store still sits as the company’s flagship, and for the past 125 years, Bulgari has been synonymous with the finest Italian style. Today, the Bulgari line boasts jewels, watches, a vast range of leather goods, silver gifts and perfumes, and hotels.

Join the Celebration by heading to Rome to see the special exhibition of 500 objects created between 1884 and 2009. The “Between Eternity and History” exhibition debuted in Rome at the Palazzo delle Espozinio on May 20, during a star-studded gala. Following the exhibition, part of the collection will be presented at high-profile Bulgari events around the world and will ultimately be auctioned in New York in December, with proceeds going to Save the Children’s Rewrite the Future campaign. Bulgari’s ultimate goal is to raise 10 million euros for Save the Children by the end of 2009, of which 1 million euros will be donated in advance to kick off the initiative.

Can’t make it to Rome for the exhibition or New York for the auction? A new, limited edition ring (in silver as a tribute to the family’s origins) engraved with the Save the Children logo is available for purchase until December 30, 2009. Bulgari will not profit from any of the initiatives connected with this project, and many celebrities lent their names to the cause, including Willem Dafoe, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia De Rossi, Sting, Julianne Moore, and others.

100 Years of Bugatti
Founded: 1909
Founder: Ettore

Company History In 1909 Ettore Bugatti started his business in the Alsacian town of Molsheim, France dubbing the company “Ettore Bugatti Automobiles i.Els.” While the name has since changed to “Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.,” the site and the philosophy of the brand have been preserved. In 2006 the first model under the new management was launched, precisely 50 years after the last car of the original company left the gates of the Molsheim factory. The Bugatti Veyron has only been on the market for three years but has already become an undisputed part of automotive history, with 250 cars ordered to date, and nearly 200 cars delivered. Only 50 more Veyrons will be sold before the self-imposed limit of 300 units is reached.

Join the Celebration by picking up a special edition Veyron. Bugatti marked the milestone by creating the unique Bugatti Veyron Bleu Centenaire. The anniversary model features the typical Bugatti two-tone specification, but is outfitted in two shades of blue as opposed to separate colors. The lighter hue is now known as Bugatti Blue. The supercar is priced at 1.35 million euros.

Throughout the year, Bugatti will mark this milestone with exclusive events, culminating in a soirée in Molsheim on September 12. The celebration kicked off at the Geneva Auto Show, where the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport was revealed for the first time. At the recent Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza, the elite annual event in Italy celebrating historic cars, Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. presented four Bugatti Veyron specials-one-off models that are reminders of the company’s glorious history.

The four Bugatti Veyron Specials models feature the racing colors of various countries: blue for France, red for Italy, green for England, and white for Germany. Each of the four new Veyrons has a specific predecessor-an original Grand Prix Bugatti on which it was modeled-and each of the unique autos is named after a Bugatti racecar driver from the 1920s and ’30s. These cars were exhibited alongside their predecessors on Sunday of the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza weekend for the first-and only-time. However, Bugatti will continue its 100-year celebration at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California in mid-August, and attendees will be treated to a special surprise from the esteemed brand.

Celebration: 100 Years of Audi
Founded: 1909
Founder: August Horch

Company’s History On July 16, 1909, August Horch founded the brand with the four rings in Zwickau, Germany. Audi is only one of three German automotive brands from the early 1900s still in existence.

Join The Celebration by participating in the events, of which there will be more than 50 throughout the year. Exactly 100 years to the day from the founding, Audi is throwing a grand birthday celebration at the Audi Forum Ingolstadt, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to attend. This will kickoff four days of special events featuring musical performances and a display of historic racing cars. Additionally, Audi will also be this year’s “featured marquee” at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, the world’s largest historic motor sport event.

An everlasting tribute to 100 years of Audi is being honored with the Tachoscope, the new Audi centennial watch. This timekeeper embodies the spirit of the brand: tradition and innovation, design and precision, sophistication and perfection. Only 100 of these special timepieces will be available.

100 Years of Mercedes Benz
Founded: 1909
Founder: Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft
Carl Benz

Company History The histories of the Mercedes star and the Benz laurel wreath began independently of each other: on June 24, 1909, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft officially registered the design of the Mercedes star, and on August 6th Benz & Cie. registered the letters “Benz”, enclosed by a laurel wreath, as a trademark with the Imperial Patent Office. The fact that both vehicle makers registered their new trademarks in the summer of 1909 is coincidentially parallel to 1886, when Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz invented the automobile. Twenty-three years later, the two companies, competitors at the time, created the new brand symbols that promptly appeared as a badge on their respective models. They have since combined and evolved into the famed Mercedes logo.

Join the Celebration by purchasing the exclusive edition of the flagship CL-Class Coupe. This anniversary model shines with an extensive package of appointments and exquisite details, such as an elegant paint finish from the designo collection, the AMG Sports package, premium leather, black piano lacquer trim and beautifully executed emblems of the original trademarks inset into the center console. These are accurate reproductions of the emblems that Daimler Motorengesellschaft and Benz & Cie registered as trademarks 100 years ago, forming the basis for the Mercedes star. A limited number of the special “100 Years of Mercedes-Benz Edition” model goes on sale in the U.S. during the summer of 2009.