The designer Pierre Cardin, a pioneer of ready-to-wear born in Italy but living in Paris since 1945, died this Tuesday, December 29 at the age of 98, as his family confirmed to AFP.
Pierre Cardin: “Thanks to fashion I have been able to do theater”
The stylist has died in the American hospital in Neuilly, on the outskirts of Paris. “I have been lucky enough to do what I wanted without having needed bankers or authority. I have been a free man since I was 20 years old,” he said of himself.
Cardin created an emporium with his name, participated with André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne in the renewal of French haute couture in the post-war period. He was born in 1922 in the Italian town of Sant’Andrea di Barbarana, into a family of farmers who emigrated to France fleeing fascism.
He began his profession in the liberated Paris after World War II, where he arrived at the age of 23 with the dream of becoming an actor or dancer. She opted for needles and worked for seamstresses such as Jeanne Paquin and Elsa Schiaparelli. He soon stood out as one of the promises of Parisian fashion design and entered Christian Dior’s studio, when that fashion house relaunched the image of Paris as a world temple of fashion through the New Look in 1947.
He learned together with great Parisian creators, became emancipated to launch his futuristic vision brand in 1950 and with that successful emporium he revolutionized fashion with abstract silhouettes of sculptural forms.
In the 1950s he distinguished himself as one of the youngest couturiers in France and tried to sign for Balenciaga, but was rejected and set up his own haute couture firm. With it he developed the concept of ready-to-wear: fashion was no longer just custom creations, but the industrial democratization of standard sizes.
In 1965 his collection appeared Cosmos, which was inspired by the space race and proposed unisex models in years in which Cardin drank from Mondrian’s color schemes, Mao-like designs and the fascination generated by astronauts. His emporium continued to grow in the 1970s and 1980s, always until in 1991 Cardin introduced haute couture to the French Academy of Fine Arts. Due to his disagreements with the great couturiers, only Paco Rabanne accompanied him at the ceremony.
“My great trait of genius was ready-to-wear when there was nothing but haute couture, which always makes you lose money. They told me it would not last two years, but I believed in my idea. I have been criticized and imitated”, remembered the also owner of the famous Parisian restaurant Maxim’s.
Still 90 years old, and in perfect mental shape, he boasted of owning about twenty perfumes, publishing houses, theaters, a hotel, decoration, lipstick, pens, glasses, lighters, restaurants, buildings …
At the age of 92, the veteran seamstress and renowned art patron completed one of his latest challenges: moving his own fashion museum from the outskirts of the capital to the sophisticated Marais district, in 1,000 square meters spread over three levels in the center from Paris.