Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - French fashion pioneer Pierre Cardin dies



French fashion pioneer Pierre Cardin dies

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
French designer Pierre Cardin presenting the new uniforms of UTA’ s flight attendants at Le Bourget airport, north-northeast of Paris, on May 9, 1968. AFP

French fashion pioneer Pierre Cardin dies

French designer Pierre Cardin, who shook up the fashion world with his visionary creations but also turned his name into a money-spinning global brand, died on December 28 aged 98.

Cardin won renown in postwar Europe with his futurist designs that looked like they had arrived from another planet, but he also used his business acumen to create the first truly global fashion empire.

Cardin, who was born into a low-income family in northern Italy but became a France-based fashion superstar, died in a hospital in Neuilly in the west of Paris, his family said in a statement.

“It is a day of great sadness for all our family. Pierre Cardin is no more,” the statement said.

It said that after a lifetime spanning a century, Cardin had left France and the world a “great, unique artistic heritage”, and not only in fashion.

Designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the artistic director of Benetton, said Cardin was “a very extraordinary man” who did not set borders between fashion, design or architecture.

“His inspiration boosted my imagination,” he said, adding that for Cardin the marketing and promotion of his art “was as important as the art itself”.

Jean-Paul Gaultier, the so-called “enfant terrible” of the French fashion world, paid tribute to Cardin, who employed him in the early stages of his career.

“Thank you Monsieur Cardin for opening the doors to fashion and making my dream possible,” Gaultier wrote on Twitter.

From apprentice to global empire

Born in 1922 near Venice in northern Italy, Cardin was a small child when his family emigrated to France.

“Italian by birth, Pierre Cardin never forgot his origins while bringing unconditional love to France,” his family said.

He grew up in the French industrial town of Saint Etienne and was apprenticed to a tailor in Vichy at the age of 17, already specialising in women’s suits.

Moving to Paris, he designed the mesmerising sets and costumes for the film “Beauty and the Beast” with poet, artist and director Jean Cocteau in 1947.

After a stint with Christian Dior, he had already set up his own fashion label in 1950.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
French designer Pierre Cardin receives an award from China Fashion Association as he is surrounded by his Chinese models at a fashion show in Beijing. AFP

He quickly established a name as an innovator, creating the now legendary bubble dress in 1954.

Cardin also broke new ground commercially, ruffling feathers in the fashion establishment for producing a ready-to-wear collection for the Paris department store Printemps.

His 1964 “Space Age” collection remains a landmark in fashion history. “My favourite item of clothing is the one I create for a life that does not yet exist – the world of tomorrow,” he once said.

‘Goal was the street’

Cardin’s global empire had a strong presence in Japan, and he broke ground in deals with the Soviet Union and China in the late 1970s.

He was also the first designer to hold a fashion show in Red Square in Moscow in 1991, drawing a crowd of 200,000.

Cardin’s family praised how he had plunged “early on into the flow of globalisation”.

The designer insisted that he wanted his creations to be worn by ordinary people and not just shown off by the glitterati.

“My goal was the street, that my name and my creations are in the street. Celebrities, princesses . . . that wasn’t my cup of tea. I respected them, I dined with them, but I didn’t see them in my dresses,” he said.

His coveted brand name was used not just on men’s and women’s clothing sold at outlets around the world but on goods such as sunglasses and luggage, through a myriad of licensing agreements.

These disturbed some purists but he was unapologetic.

“It is very difficult to make a name in fashion. When you have one, you need to profit from it,” he said in 2019.

“If I made money through the licensing it was to be free and do something other than fashion.”

But the much-used and franchised Cardin brand eventually lost its lustre, and when he put his fashion label up for sale in 2011 it failed to sell.

“We are all proud of his tenacious ambition and the daring he has shown throughout his life,” his family said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement