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Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion

August 01, 2019
By: Aaron Peasley

"I have a name, I have to take advantage of it" - Pierre Cardin

"I have a name, I have to take advantage of it" - Pierre Cardin.

Arriving with suitable interplanetary panache, a retrospective of French fashion icon Pierre Cardin is set to touch down at the Brooklyn Museum this month. Opening on July 20th, Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion explores the universe of one of the 20th century’s most innovative designers, with over 170 objects dating from the 1950s to the present day.


Pierre Cardin and Lauren Bacall with models on the set of Bacall and the Boys, 1968. (Photo: Yoshi Takata. Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin)

From the outset, Italian born Cardin blazed his own trail. His design career began with roles at a number of storied Parisian couturiers, including surrealist Schiaparelli and Christian Dior (where he is credited with masterminding the voluminous ‘New Look’). By the early fifties, Cardin had formed his own house, quickly differentiating himself from his forebears with boldly futuristic garments such as the seminal ‘Bubble’ dresses of 1954.


Pierre Cardin “Cardine” dress, 1968. (Photo: Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin)


Pierre Cardin wool dress with cutouts, 1971. (Photo: Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin)

Going forward, the innovations, from both an aesthetic and business perspective, were legion. In 1959, Cardin was the first to launch ready-to-wear fashion, creating out-there collections that drew on recurrent themes like space exploration, technology and architecture. Among Cardin’s recognizable silhouettes were ‘orbiting’ dresses, pleated ‘computer’ coats and Japanese-inspired pinafores created with thermo-formed fabric.


Palais Bulles designed by the Hungarian architect Antti Lovag.

But Cardin’s metier wasn’t limited to clothing. Credited with masterminding one of the first truly international lifestyle brands, the designer created furniture (highly collectible today), a space suit for NASA in 1970 and expansive lines of jewelry and accessories. He purchased Paris’ iconic Maxim’s restaurant and took it international, including a Cardin-designed Parisian hotel replete with namesake furniture and lavish on-site restaurants. There’s also his incredible home, designed by the Hungarian architect Antti Lovag and located on the Cote D'Azur, with its interlocking bubbles and salmon-pink hue. Today, it remains one of the 20th century’s most indelible private residences (with a value well above 100 million Euros).


Eddie Adams (American, 1933–2004). Pierre Cardin, 1974. Chromogenic photograph on paper, 11 ¼ x 15 in. (28.6 x 38.1 cm). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute; gift of Time magazine, Briscoe Center for American History, NPG.78.TC276. © Estate of Eddie Adams. (Photo: Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery)