Fashion Blog Series: Cardin

Another famous designer with pieces in our textile collection is Pierre Cardin. Cardin was known for his avant-garde style and his Space Age designs. He advanced into unisex fashions, sometimes experimental, and not always practical. This blog post, by Jackie Mullins, introduces us to Cardin and showcases some of his unique and groundbreaking fashions.

The baby boomer generation became young adults during the 1960s and wanted to identify themselves as separate from their parents in every way-from politics to fashion.

These young adults preferred a simplified silhouette in bright, bold colors and that was exactly what Pierre Cardin delivered! Cardin showed his first collection in 1951 and avoided following the fashion geniuses of his day – Dior and Balenciaga.  When he designed the first ever unisex collection in 1958, he was expelled by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.  However his bold color choices and simplified shapes won the hearts of young adults all over the world.

Considered a rebel of the fashion world, Cardin stated, “For me, the fabric is nearly secondary.  I believe first in shape, architecture, the geometry of a dress.”

Cardin’s ability to use the human form as the structure from which he draped fabric architecturally is evident in this example below.

Just as many of his contemporaries aligned themselves with a simplified “space age” look Cardin incorporated a pared design with the use of flat, bold color.

These designers, including Paco Rabanne, Rudi Gernrich, and Andre Courreges saw themselves as artists working with color in fabric and this extended to accessories such as this evening bag from the 1960s.

During the 1970s, Cardin’s designs shifted from architectural to a more flowing, draped effect and he also incorporated prints while still preferring bold color choices as seen in this evening dress from 1974, which was sold at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Jackie Mullins