Iconic French designer Pierre Cardin, who was hailed for his avant-garde styles in the 1960s and 70s, has died at the age of 98, according to the French Academy of Fine Arts. The academy did not give a cause of death or say where or when he died.
Le Secrétaire perpétuel, Laurent Petitgirard, et les membres de l’Académie des beaux-arts ont la très grande tristesse d’annoncer la disparition de leur confrère Pierre Cardin. Il avait été élu le 12 février 1992 au fauteuil de Pierre Dux (section des membres libres). pic.twitter.com/sA1mABvZB5
— Académie beaux-arts (@AcadBeauxarts) December 29, 2020
Cardin was known for savvy business moves and his space-age designs in his career spanning over 60 years. According to his official website, “Pierre Cardin’s world is made from multiple things, it is protean as well as avant-guardist. Fashion, accessories, jewelry, fragrances, furniture, theater costumes, tableware, and even Maxim’s restaurants…such is the innovating world of Pierre Cardin’s brand. Everything represents an inexhaustible source of inspiration to the designer: Japan and China’s lifestyle during the 60’s and 70’s, all amazing and unusual encounters, everyday life, but also the social, cultural and industrial evolutions and revolutions. Each of his collections is an evidence of a fierce appetite for experimentation.”
“It’s all the same to me whether I am doing sleeves for dresses or table legs,” a telling quote on his website read.
Born on July 7, 1922 in Venice, Italy, he was a notable designer of women’s clothes, and also a pioneer in the design of high fashion for men.
According to Reuters, “In a career spanning more than 60 years, Cardin drew scorn and admiration from fellow fashion designers for his brash business sense. He maintained that he built his business empire without ever asking a bank for a loan. Cardin was the first designer to sell clothes collections in department stores in the late 1950s, and the first to enter the licensing business for perfumes, accessories and even food – now a major profit driver for many fashion houses.”
According to Britannica.com, Cardin’s father was a wealthy French wine merchant who wanted him to study architecture but he was interested in dress designing. After World War II, he joined the Parisian fashion house of Paquin, where he helped design costumes for Jean Cocteau’s film Beauty and the Beast. He also worked at the couture house of Christian Dior.
In 1950, he opened a shop of his own and gradually gained a solid reputation as a men’s suit maker. In 1959, he created one of the first ready-to-wear collections for women, and in 1960 introduced the first designer ready-to-wear collection for men.
“I had a sense for marketing my name,” Cardin had told Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in 2007. “Does money spoil one’s
ideas? I don’t dream of money after all, but while I’m dreaming, I’m making money. It’s never been about the money.”
He was most noted for his stark, short tunics and his use of vinyl, helmets, and goggles in the 1960s, which helped launch the so-called space-age look. Cardin later became famous for licensing his name for use on a variety of products (such as sunglasses). The practice of licensing subsequently became common for fashion designers.
Gowns and bodysuits in fluorescent spandex were fitted with plastic hoops that stood away from the body at the waist, elbows, wrists, and knees. Bubble dresses and capes enveloped their wearers in oversized spheres of fabric. Toques were shaped like flying saucers, bucket hats sheathed the models entire head with cutout windshields at the eyes, reported AP.
For his latest venture in February this year he teamed up with a designer seven decades his junior. Pierre Courtial, 27, unveiled a collection at Cardin’s studio on Paris’s chic Rue Saint-Honore, with pieces that echoed some of the veteran designer’s geometrical aesthetics.
Cardin said he still rated originality above anything else.”I’ve always tried to be different, to be myself,” Cardin had told Reuters. “Whether people like it or not, that’s not what matters.”