It all started one fateful evening when Cartier invited Yasmine Sabri to attend a glittering launch in Dubai. After a whirlwind two-and-a-half-year journey since the Egyptian actor joined the Cartier family and made history as the first Middle Eastern woman to collaborate with the French jeweler – “Inshallah, it’s not going to be the last” – Sabri is now making her mark as the first woman from the region to star in one of the brand’s global film campaigns.
Launching the latest Panthère collection, the film, called Into the Wild, welcomes Sabri into a close-knit community of muses – model Mariacarla Boscono, actors Annabelle Wallis, Ella Balinska, Chang Chen, and singer Karen Mok – who unite in reflecting the fierce yet feminine character emblematic of the wild cat. First appearing on a watch in 1914, the panther has since become synonymous with the storied French house. Its creator, Jeanne Toussaint, not only established a longstanding legacy of elegant and audacious designs for Cartier but was the first in an exclusive tribe of women exuding the fierce spirit and quiet strength of the rare and elusive feline.
Jetting off to Paris to shoot with German filmmaker Jonas Lindstroem for 14 hours straight “has been the highlight of my year,” remarks Sabri as she anxiously awaits to see the final film, scheduled to debut this month at airports and Cartier boutiques around the world. “I can’t wait to see it in front of my eyes.”
A self-proclaimed “cat person,” Sabri shares that the latest Panthère timepiece, with a price tag of AED 1.8 million, is her favorite from the upcoming collection. The masterpiece is laden with glittering diamonds and green emeralds in an artisanal interpretation of the signature panther. “You have to go somewhere incredible with it,” she says. “I stand out and I don’t belong to any crowd. I’m strong, I’m independent, I’m beautiful, I’m wild, I’m irreplaceable.”
Not only does Sabri feel this way when wearing the watch, but the dazzling piece also complements the charisma of a “Panthère woman.” “Sometimes men think if a woman is too strong, too masculine, she’s not as feminine, but that’s also represented in the watch. You can look so feminine and so elegant, but you’re still a strong, independent woman and you know your worth,” she says. “An empowered woman is worth everything. She has to believe that about herself.”
While Sabri considers that she has achieved gender equality on an individual level by turning down projects that threaten to pigeon-hole her–instead accepting roles like Dalida, a woman whose life radically changes after witnessing a murder in the Ramadan series Hekayti–she considers that Arab cinema and the Middle East overall is still replete with women lacking empowerment. “I think we, as Arab women, should always try to inspire others, be good role models, and help women specifically to be empowered and to believe in themselves and to feel like we are worthy.”
The industry may be championing inclusivity in theory, but Sabri has yet to see enough campaigns embracing casts of culturally diverse women. “You’re setting an example to the people who are watching: you can be this and that but we all represent the same thing–women empowerment.”
While Sabri may be the first to represent the Arab world with Cartier, her introspective journey reminds her not to take the privilege lightly. “It’s such an honor and I’m so proud. I hope I can represent the women of the Middle East in the most beautiful, elite, and prestigious way possible,” she says. “It makes me feel like I have been doing something right, like I have been thinking the right way because I’ve had these kinds of results.
Originally published in the January 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia