Pierre Cardin, the worldwide famous French fashion designer, began his career at the young age of 17 as an apprentice to a tailor. Born in Italy on July 2, 1922, to French parents, he moved to Paris in 1945 where he studied architecture and worked with Paquin after the war. In 1947 he became head of Dior’s tailleure atelier, and designed the costumes for Jean Cocteau’s fantasy Beauty and the Beast.
In 1950 Pierre Cardin left Dior, and opened his own house of style in Paris. At first Cardin concentrated on designs for costume balls. His designs were fairly basic and geometric. He emphasized structure rather than decoration, often tending to ignore the female form. In 1959 he created the first ready-to-wear high-fashion line for women, and in 1960 he created the first ready-to-wear high-fashion line for men. The mass-produced ready-to-wear styles brought high fashion to many people who could not afford the custom-designed clothes previously considered past of the high fashion industry. For these fashion lines, Cardin was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale, but he was soon reinstated.
It appeared that many of Cardin’s designs were asexual. His Space Age collection of 1964 including tube dresses, hip-high boots, and tunics worn over leggings, was one of Cardin’s unisex lines. His unisex fashions were often experimental and not very practical.
In 1966 Pierre Cardin resigned from the Chambre Syndicale and began showing his collections in his own Venue, Espace Cardin. In 1968 he invented a new fabric called Cardine. Cardine is a stiff synthetic fabric that features molded three-dimensional geometric patterns.
In the 1970s Cardin began adding frill to his design. He designed many floating evening dresses of printed chiffons. His menswear is memorable for its collar-less, pocket-less, jackets.
Over the last forty years Pierre Cardin has accumulated many roles in society. From a visionary designer, to the owner of the West’s first restaurant, Maxim’s, in China. Cardin is at the head of a veritable empire and chooses to present his haute couture collections to only a privileged circle of clients. Cardin is a futurist who hates computers. He has never borrowed money from any bank, and he auto-finances everything. Cardin only advertises perfumes, and he re-invests his profits in property.
Pierre Cardin’s Fashion Empire extends to over one hundred countries, indirectly providing employment to 180,000 people in seven hundred factories. His name is labeled on other products besides perfumes and clothing such as, jams, pots and pans, floor tiles, and ties. Pierre Cardin has received many awards and titles. He is a member of the “Academie Francaise” and the “Academie des Beaux-Arts”. In addition he was the Honorary Ambassador of UNESCO in 1991. Despite the fact that in just 1992 alone, one hundred-thirty million dollars in sales was achieved, Pierre Cardin has made it very well known that he does not place much value on money. The total turnover of products with the label Pierre Cardin is estimated at nearly one billion dollars. “Money is only a means,” Cardin says, “my life has not changed in twenty years.”
“Cardin, Pierre,” World Book Online Americas Edition, http://www.worldbookonline.com/wbol/wbPage/na/ar/co/723844, February 13, 2001.