French designer and fashion icon Pierre Cardin has been confirmed dead at the age of 98 after a brief stay in the hospital due to failing health.
Pierre Cardin is popular because he charted his own path in the fashion industry and took pioneering steps. In the 1950s, he became popular for his experimental, unorthodox and radical style. He was also popular for his Space Age designs. This led him into futuristic styles such as catsuits with space helmets.
He once said; “The dresses I prefer are those I invent for a life that does not yet exist.”
It was clear that he was a visionary and Nasa commissioned him to create a spacesuit in 1969.
What really set Pierre Cardin apart was the fact that he focused more on geometric shapes and motifs while often ignoring the female form. This was in sharp contrast to what his peers were doing at the time. In 1954, he invented the bubble dress.
Pierre Cardin interest in geometry is because he studied architecture, which was his father’s initial plan for him. Cardin worked in several establishments as was even head of Christian Dior’s tailleure atelier in 1947 although he was not allowed to work at Balenciaga.
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He dressed popular 60s personalities like Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and the Beatles. However, while Pierre Cardin is undoubtedly an artist, his business sense is what made him as popular as he became later in life.
He started licensing and putting his name or initials on items such as pens, clocks, trousers and shoes, and later hotels, perfumes and restaurants. In fact, he is the pioneer of ‘branding’.
This made it possible for him to reach the high-class patrons of fashion and the minimum class patrons of household items. Further, Cardin set precedence for unisex fashion when he made tunics that both men and women can wear.
Pierre Cardin became the first French designer to trade with China in 1979 and he was also the first to trade in the Soviet Union in 1983. Additionally, he was the first designer to hold a fashion show in Red Square, Moscow, in 1991.
Pierre Cardin died in a hospital in Neuilly, near Paris. Tributes are pouring in online for him with many remembering his talent and courage.
Cardin was gay for most of his life according to several sources. Although, in the 1960s he had a four-year affair with actress Jeanne Moreau. Pierre Cardin’s long-term business partner and life partner was fellow French fashion designer André Oliver, who died in 1993.