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Pierre Cardin

Updated: May 8



Famous couturier Pierre Cardin, the last big name in the golden age of French Haute Couture, died on 29th December 2020.


The stylist, whose futuristic designs shook up the 1960s, was 98 years old.


Son of Italian immigrants who became a businessman with a world-famous name, Pierre Cardin died in the morning at the American hospital in Neuilly, in the west of Paris.


Before many others, Pierre Cardin had opened a "corner" in a department store, Le Printemps, and presented a men's catwalk.


Cardin adopted on a large scale a system of licenses which ensured it as distribution in the whole world, affixing its name on products as diverse as ties, cigarettes, perfumes or mineral water.




As a pioneer, he turned very early on to Asia where he enjoyed great notoriety: he went to Japan in 1957, then in full reconstruction, and had organized parades in China in 1979.



"Supreme consecration, he is finally the first couturier to enter the “Académie des beaux-arts” in Paris, making fashion recognized as an art in its own right.


This son of Italian immigrants, who never retired, brought haute couture to the streets by launching a ready-to-wear line in 1959. The couturier, whose collarless suits inspired those of Beatles, was also a man of culture and patron, invested in theater, dance and music, with the Espace Cardin, in Paris, and the festival of lyric art and theater of Lacoste, in the Lubéron.


Jack-of-all-trades, he had embarked on the creation of furniture as well as hotels and restaurants with Maxim's.


Bubble and cosmocorps dresses



Honorary Ambassador of Unesco, he was also the first academic couturier. It is also in the large meeting room of the Academy of Fine Arts that he presented at the end of November 2016, at the age of 94, one of the river parades he was accustomed to, to mark his 70 years. careers. Tireless, he explained in July 2016 shortly before the presentation of a new collection, his strong “needs to 'express".


Born July 2, 1922 near Venice, Pierre Cardin left Italy for France at the age of two with his parents fleeing fascism. After making his debut with a tailor in Saint-Etienne and working as an accountant for the Red Cross in Vichy during the war, he landed in Paris in 1945.


After working for Paquin and Schiaparelli, he joined Christian Dior, with whom he participated in the "New Look" revolution, before launching his own fashion house. A designer with a futuristic aesthetic, like André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin was successful from the start with his bubble dresses. He plays with innovative materials, colors and geometric shapes, designs target dresses inspired by "op art", molded dresses, pants with ellipses, colorful and trapezoidal coats, men's suits with Mao collar.


Fascinated by the conquest of space, he was inspired by it to create unisex "cosmocorps" suits in jersey.





A major contribution


The licensing system, contracts entrusting the manufacture of products to a third-party company in exchange for royalties for the use of the name, made his fortune (he held about 350, against 900 at the height of his success, in a hundred of countries). This extreme diversification has had the effect of popularizing its name but also of devaluing the brand and has attracted the contempt of some of its peers.


So much so that today, apart from Jean-Paul Gaultier, who worked at Cardin at the beginning of his career, no figure of fashion mentions his contribution to fashion, however major: he had for example received three "Dés d'or", French fashion distinctions awarded until the early 1990s.


Pierre Cardin was until the end a hard worker who controlled his business 100%, the only one of his generation to have remained independent. In 2011, he announced that he wanted to sell this empire for a billion euros, but had not found a buyer.


In 2019, the Brooklyn Museum in New York devoted its first major retrospective in thirty years to him, a way for the museum to contribute to the revaluation of the image of the creator.






The businessman was no stranger to controversy. Its multiple restoration works in Lacoste have for several years aroused a rebellion among the inhabitants. Ditto in 2012 for his pharaonic project of Palais Lumière in Venice, which never saw the light of day.


During his 70-year career, he received all the possible distinctions: the "Dés d'or" of French Haute-Couture (in 1977, 1979 and 1982), the titles of Commander of the Legion of Honor, Commander of the 'National Order of Merit and Knight of Arts and Letters.


But it is more in his way of considering the profession of designer, by combining creative talent and entrepreneurial genius that Pierre Cardin will remain a model of success for all future generations of stylists.


May Fall-Kadouf

CEO Elemntz LTD