Pierre Cardin: French fashion, Italian style

Pierre Cardin was born in a small Italian town, Sant’Andrea di Barbarana, on 2 July 1922. An only child, he moved with his family to France when he was only 2 years old. His parents, in poverty, decide to find luck in another country. France thus becomes the home of Pietro Costante Cardin, who will be naturalized in Pierre Cardin.

At the age of 14 he began learning the tailoring trade as an apprentice in the city of Vichy. Over the years he has worked with illustrious names in fashion, such as Jeanne Paquin and especially Elsa Schiaparelli . Furthermore , in 1947 he is already Dior’s most important tailor.

In 1950 he decided to set up his own business, founding one of the first post-war French fashion houses.

The stylist and the creator of a series of innovations. In fact, his style is avant-garde and inspired by geometric shapes and motifs, sometimes (but not always) giving space to the enhancement of female forms.

His creations are dedicated to high fashion. He was the first Western designer to arrive in Japan in 1959, he creates the first unisex collection and the dress with bubbles.

The maison has created an innovative style over the years. For example, Cardin himself creates a collection inspired by space, soon inspiring other creatives as well.

One of her workhorses, the tight, sexy and slit skirt from 1966 causes scandal, as well as her prefabricated molded dresses or her plastic jewels.

Over the years she has been a celebrity of the show such as Begun, Farah Diba, Lauren Bacall and Jeanne Moreau.

Dress made for Lauren Bacall – Museum at FIT from USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its philosophy is simple:

Clothes must go on the street, but it is not the road that teaches.

Always alert and proactive towards changes in society’s tastes, he sets himself up as the first socialist in fashion , as he himself expressed in an intervention.

Since 1971, all of its collections have been presented in a space of the company created precisely for these occasions: the Espace Cardin. The designer, however, was always very generous and on that occasion also granted this space to musicians, actors and artists.

Cardin has been a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture et du Pret-a-Porter  and of the  Maison du Haute Couture  for several decades.

Like many other designers, Pierre Cardin also decided, in 1994, to show his collection only to a small group of selected clients and journalists.

The designer died at the age of 98, on December 29, 2020, of natural causes at the American hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris.

Before dying, he designates his nephew Rodrigo Basilicati Cardin as the artistic heir of the maison, as well as president of the companies headed by him.

Georges Biard, CC 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Pierre Cardin company

Pierre Cardin’s company today is an important multinational, famous all over the world. It is in fact found in around 140 countries and has a market value of 1 billion euros. Listed on the stock exchange and with offices all over the world, the company has recently experienced the loss of its founder, but has successfully continued its business.

Cardin’s company has several related brands and the shows have always been behind closed doors , with a few select people. 

Pierre Cardin today

Pierre Cardin has always been a forerunner of the times. In fact, in the 1960s, he was the first to make three-dimensional one-color suits, using wool. If you think about the trendy models today, in 2021, you can immediately understand the great talent of the designer who, however, was not immediately understood.

In fact, in the first period of his life as a successful designer, many critics talk about models designed to make people talk about themselves. Seen today, those models look like they were made a few weeks ago.

Cardin kept the reins of the company until his death , opening up to new cultures and innovations.

The company today carries on its inspiration and the Paris Fashion Week 2021-2022 will celebrate it with various events dedicated to its figure.

Cardin was also celebrated in life, with numerous honors and awards dedicated to his interests and commitments. Among his many activities, we can also mention the role of theatrical costume designer, successful entrepreneur in the fast food sector and a genius in recovering pieces of French history, such as the famous Lacoste castle .

In the Eighties, to celebrate 30 years of career , an exhibition entirely dedicated to her clothes was presented in New York.