Pierre Cardin was born on July 2, 1922 in San Biagio di Callalta, Italy. Two years later, poverty stricken from WW I, he and his parents emigrated to France. Cardin expressed an early interest in fashion and was working as a tailor by the age of 14. In 1945, he moved to Paris where he soon settled in working for the fashion house of Chrisian Dior. In 1950, having proved himself integral to the development of Dior’s “New Look”, Pierre left to open his own company which would go on to become one of the most successful fashion brands of the 20th century.
Cardin’s talent did not go unnoticed for long and in 1954 his bubble dress became an international success. In the 1960s, inspired by scientific progress, Cardin establishing himself as the first couturier to work with synthetic materials. His designs during this period were referred to as the “Space Age” style and their often avant-garde forms helped to establish his distinctive voice. In 1977, 1979 and 1982, Cardin was awarded the highest honor in Haute Couture when he was awarded the Golden Thimble
Cardin proved as unique in his approach to business as he was in his approach to design, when early on he flew in the face of traditional practices by creating a ready to wear line for women to be sold in a Paris department store (at the time, fashion houses catered exclusively to a wealthy, private clientele). In the 1960s he shocked again, by displaying his logo on his clothing. Since that time, Cardin has lent his name and designs to just about everything from water to automobiles, furniture to airplanes. While he has often been criticized for these practices, time has proved him a visionary in how fashion houses work, design, promote and generally carry out business in the new millennium. And now… enjoy the show! Above photo by Claude Iverné.
Model Gloria Friedrich in Paris wearing a Pierre Cardin coat. Featured in Stern magazine March, 1963. Photo via Pleasurephoto.
Pierre Cardin’s “Space Age” style stuns on the cover of The Sunday Times Magazine, 1967. Photo by Peter Knapp via.
Above Left – a blue and white biker ensemble complete with yellow goggle glasses, 1965. Above Center – an organza collar and ultra wide synthetic fiber belt create a graphic mix of hard and soft. Featured in Vogue UK, 1968. Photo by David Bailey. Above Right – Pierre Cardin’s famed 1967 carwash dress. Photos via Le Blog de SoVeNa, Vogue UK – March 1968 and 1stdibs.
This set of six rings was designed by Cardin in 1970 and is now part of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston collection.
Pedal Coffee Table (1960s) – a rare retractable table, currently available through 1stdibs.
Walnut and leather side chairs designed by Cardin circa 1980. Available through Phillips.
High back Pierre Cardin dining chairs (1960s) in suede, brass and chrome.
The gestural swoosh of this Cardin designed brass table lamp echoes the designer’s famed logo.
American Motors Corporation invited Pierre Cardin to design an optional interior for their 1972 and 1973 Javelin car. Cardin’s design featured pleated stripes in red, wild plum, white, silver and black. The detailing was fabricated out of a nylon fabric, treated with a stain-resistant silicone finish and ran from the seats, up the doors, onto the headliner and down onto the rear seats. Cardin’s signature crest was stamped into each car’s front fender. Photo via Hemmings Daily.
Pierre Cardin stepping out of his strikingly detailed ‘West Wind’ executive jet of his own design, 1978. Photo via Mondo.
In 1975, architect Antti Lovag took Cardin’s geometric bubble fetish and applied it to what would become Cardin’s home. The result is Palais Bulles (the Bubble House). It is said the sprawling 1200 square meter, 10 bedroom structure which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea in Cannes France, represents Cardin’s idea of paradise.
Today, at the age of 91, Pierre Cardin has firmly established himself and his company as one of the most influential and successful names the fashion world has ever known. He continues to live, work and design in Paris. Photos via Design Rulz and Assouline.
“I like designing out of context, without the limitations of angles, corridors, rooms or walls. It’s all the same to me whether I’m doing sleeves for dresses or table legs.” – Pierre Cardin
Primary Sources: PierreCardin.com,