Visionary French Couturier Pierre Cardin Passes Away, Aged 98

Italian-born, French-naturalised avant-garde fashion designer Pierre Cardin passed away aged 98 on Tuesday the 29th December 2020, in a hospital in Neuilly, west of Paris. 

Born in Italy in 1922, Pierre Cardin moved to France with his parents at a young age, making the latter his home. His career began at age 14, working as a clothier’s apprentice, before working for Parisian couture houses, including Paquin, Schiaparelli, and Dior. Cardin eventually worked his way up to become head of the tailleur atelier at Dior, working on the French luxury fashion house’s famed New Look collection.

pierre cardin designer

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Cardin established his own fashion house in 1950, and began designing haute couture by 1953. The French designer dressed creatives like Savador Dali, Christian Dior, and Marie-Louise Bousquet and went on to train promising young designers like Jean Paul Gaultier. Cardin garnered worldwide attention for his pioneering womenswear silhouettes, including the bubble dress, dresses with geometrical cut-out designs, and spherical capes, imbuing his design with a sense of modernity not seen at the time. 

Perhaps equal to his trailblazing approach to fashion was his approach to business. The late 1950s saw Cardin launch a ready-to-wear line, a move that got him expelled from the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, which forbade members from showing their collections outside of their Parisian salons. Cardin’s ready-to-wear line was a turning point in the fashion industry, allowing beautifully designed garments to be made accessible to the wider public. 

Cardin went on to become the first designer to licence out his brand to international producers, with the Pierre Cardin name stamped on everything from clothing and watches to forks and furniture. However, Cardin always used his discerning eye when lending his name to products, a strategy that has allowed him to achieve and maintain relevance with younger consumers to this day. 

Leading designers like Kim Jones, Maria Grazia Chiuri, and Jean Paul Gaultier have paid their respects to the French visionary. “Thank you Monsieur Cardin for opening the doors of fashion to me and making my dream possible,” said Gaultier via an instagram post. 

Words by AR Staff