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The Cartier Mansion, Earth’s Fanciest Store, Just Got Even Fancier

Swanky

As far as stores go, it doesn't get much swankier than Cartier's massive mansion on New York's Fifth Avenue. And after a two-and-a-half-year renovation, the retail world's most glamorous boutique is now quite literally bigger and better than it was before.

Cartier acquired the mansion in 1917 from Maisie and Morton Plant, the incredibly wealthy couple who owned it. (Morton's dad Henry was a big railroad guy.) Maisie took a liking to a Cartier pearl necklace that was worth around $1 million—this was before cultured pearls were available—and convinced her husband to trade it for the six-story home, which was only worth $925,000 at the time. It's been Cartier's American flagship ever since.

But after close to 100 years in the space, the people who run the brand decided it was time for some upgrades. It employed architect Thierry Despont for the task of renovating the space inside and out. The exterior remodel included moving the Fifth Avenue entrance slightly to align with the center of the building. Inside, nearly every space has been reconsidered. The building's boutique space once only took up two floors and 8,600 square feet of the building. It now occupies just over 44,000 square feet across four floors.

The new selling salons are appointed with an array of seriously luxurious antiques and illuminated by 30 new chandeliers, many replicas of the mansion's originals. Many of the rooms are named after Cartier's most famous clients: there's a Princess Grace Salon named for Grace Kelly, and another named for Elizabeth Taylor. If you're in the market for dude stuff, like the brand's new men's watch Drive de Cartier, you should visit the third floor: men's timepieces are showcased in three salons there. The one below is named for the legendary actor Gary Cooper, but there are also salons for Artist Andy Warhol and Santos Dumont, the Brazilian aviator who inspired Louis Cartier to create the world's first wristwatch in 1904.

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To fully bring the mansion into the 21st century, Cartier has wired the home for WiFi; when customers connect to it, their browsers will redirect to a guide through the store's public spaces. You can make an appointment to visit a salesperson on Cartier's website, and all the store's associates will be equipped with tablets, which means you can make a purchase no matter where you are in the space.

"I wanted to give people the feeling of being in the grand house that it once was and to restore it to its full glory," Despont, the architect, said in a statement. "I don't think there is any other store like it in the world."

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Cartier, 653 Fifth Avenue, New York

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