Pierre Cardin

Vanessa Semmens

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA351

Pierre Cardin, fall/winter 1999. Niall McInerney, Photographer © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Pierre Cardin was born Pietro Cardin in Venice in 1922. He started his career at a young age—he was apprenticed to a clothier at fourteen. In 1939 he started working for a tailor in Vichy before moving to Paris to study architecture in 1945. He worked with established designers such as Paquin and Elsa Schiaparelli, and collaborated with Jean Cocteau and Christian Bérard on the creation of costumes for films. Cardin also worked at Christian Dior before founding his own company in 1950.

Cardin launched an haute couture line in 1953, called the Maison de Couture. Geometry was a constant influence for him. The bubble dress, which is one of his most well-known designs, was created in 1954, the same year that his first womenswear boutique, Eve, opened in Paris. In 1957 a complementary boutique for menswear was launched, called Adam. In 1960 he created his first collection for men, called “Cylinder.”

Cardin was briefly expelled from the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in 1959 for launching a ready-to-wear collection for the department store Printemps, but overall was a member from 1953 to 1993.

In the 1960s Cardin began licensing his name, and his first venture concerned ties: at one point there were over 700 licenses. He stated: “I wanted my name to become a brand and not just a label.” In 1971, he opened a venue called Espace Cardin to promote new artistic talent.

Cardin had many interests outside fashion, such as industrial design. In 1977 he created a collection of haute couture furniture called Utilitarian Sculptures. In 1981 he bought the restaurant Maxim’s, and exported the brand worldwide.

The influence of Cardin was cemented when a thirty-year retrospective of the brand showed at the Metropolitan Museum, New York in 1980. London followed suit in 1990 with an exhibition called “Pierre Cardin: Past, Present, and Future” at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Bergin O. ““91-Year-Old Pierre Cardin Makes a Couture Comeback.”” The Telegraph , 27 November 2013 .

Find in Library Längle E. Pierre Cardin: Fifty Years of Fashion and Design . London : Thames & Hudson, 2005.

Find in Library Morais R. Pierre Cardin: The Man Who Became a Label . London : Bantam, 1991.

“Pierre Cardin.” Victoria and Albert Museum, n.d. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/p/pierre-cardin/

Pierre Cardin. Web site. http://pierrecardin.com/world/