Cardin brought high fashion to the street; he invented the bubble dress and launched the use of cartridge pleating, bright clear colors, as well as vinyl, plastics, metal rings, and oversize buttons.
Pierre Cardin left Dior to start his own company in 1950. He started out by designing clothing for stage productions, but soon built up a client base. Christian Dior sent Cardin roses as congratulations, and, a much more important gesture of encouragement, directed his overflow clients to Cardin’s new business.
1969 metallic necklace. Photo by Roland Bianchini.
1970. Raquel Welch dress with Pierre Cardin himself. Photo by Terry O’Neill.
Cardin says of his company’s beginning, “I started with 20 people. I was successful immediately.” In 1953, Cardin released his first collection of women’s clothing and became a member of the Chambre Syndicale, a French association of haute couture designers. In 1954, he opened his first boutique for women, called Eve. That same year, his bubble dresses became an international success. The design is still popular today: a loose-fitting dress is tightened near the waistline, broadens and then is brought back in at the hem, creating a “bubble” effect.
Cardin began his career apprenticed to Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior. He quickly launched his own haute couture line, in 1954, followed rapidly by the first women’s and men’s prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) collections from a couture designer. Cardin’s cutting-edge, futuristic designs have continually broken new ground and established exciting new trends.
Pierre Cardin’s bubble house on the Cote d’Azur by architect Antti Lovag. Photo by Paul Figaro.jpg
Model Irina Lazareanu wearing 1971 sunglasses.
Cardin created the business of fashion as we know it today, with international brand licensing across a variety of products and media. He had a clear ambition: “I wanted my name to become a brand and not just a label.”
Cardin also had a pioneer’s understanding of fashion’s relationship to new audiences, presenting his collections to large crowds.
Artistic director and catalyst, he also inspired artists such as Serge Manzon, Christian Adam, Maria Pergay, Giacomo Passera, Prevost, and Pacos to renew contemporary French furniture design.