One of the great names in fashion is no longer with us… Pierre Cardin, a man of many talents, passed away at the end of this year, after 70 years of a career marked by risk taking and confirmed success. With a very visionary aestheticism, he has demonstrated his art, establishing his triumph in Haute Couture as well as in prêt-à-porter. He also distinguished himself in sectors of activity where no one expected him, making his name an internationally recognised brand. A seasoned businessman, a bit provocative and a solitary wolf, “the emperor of fashion” leaves behind him a unique artistic heritage.
“Loving is good, but being loved is even better! ” He was proud of his comeback and of his victory over life. Moving from being a Venetian emigrant (he fled fascism as a child) to being an ambassador of Parisian haute couture, Pierre Cardin first made his mark in the production of theatre costumes and masks.
Trained by Jeanne Paquin in the aftermath of the Second World War, then after a brief stint with Elsa Schiaparelli, he joined Dior, for which he would retain a deep admiration throughout his life. At the beginning of the 1950s, his thirst for enterprise finally led him to establish his own house, dedicated to evening wear and haute couture.
“I invented it all ” was not just a presumptuous statement by Pierre Cardin, the facts bear out his claims…
In 1957, he was one of the first to set out to conquer Asia. In 1957, he was one of the first to set out to conquer Asia, heading for Japan, where he taught model making for a time, before seducing China with his creations in 1979.
In France, he put men in the spotlight by having them march in 1958, an activity still reserved for women. But the big change in the Cardin fashion house came in 1959 when he became the pioneer of prêt-à-porter. Wishing to make his creations accessible to all, to democratise Haute Couture, he implanted his clothes in a Parisian department shop, “Le Printemps”, in the form of a corner. After shaking up the codes of women’s fashion, he made the 1960s the starting point for the men’s (“Cylindre” Collection) and children’s (“Les Triplés” Collection) prêt-à-porter collections.
The man who always refused to retire will never stop throughout his career, sometimes surprising, always innovating, often disturbing.
Inventor of futuristic fashion in the same way as Paco Rabanne or Courrèges, he dared unstructured design, generous shapes, geometric patterns. From the bubble dress to the Mao costume worn by the Beatles, from the unisex Cosmocorps collection inspired by the conquest of space to the “Cardine” dress made of moulded triangles, Cardin imposes his style. But Cardin also imposes his name, a brand that he chooses to distribute on a large scale in the form of licences. A stroke of genius for some, betrayal for others. From designer clothes to cigarette packs, he will make very lucrative marketing choices by putting his name on more than 800 derivative products!
In 98 years, Pierre Cardin has taken up every professional challenge with an insatiable appetite, always with the same desire to explore new paths. He leaves his mark forever as a costume designer, stylist, outstanding businessman, restaurateur and hotelier. Passionate about culture and design, a respected patron of the arts, he will remain the first couturier to have raised Haute Couture to the rank of the Academy of Fine Arts.
The man of 58 houses, owner of the Palais Bulles and the former castle of the Marquis de Sade, left on December 29th to join his last home. The one he had neither chosen nor decorated, the one where he now rests for eternity.