Creativity and Culture

Pierre Cardin, Mode, Myth and Modernity


“Pierre Cardin, Mode, Myth and Modernity”, a book that pays tribute to the modernity of a visionary designer who revolutionised fashion on a global scale. A look at a great man of French Haute Couture!

Jean-Pascal Hesse and Pierre Pelegry, long-time collaborators of the great couturier, Pierre Cardin, share their intimate knowledge of the couturier’s early career in Paris.

Together, they analyse the influences that inspired this genius as he designed not only some of the most iconic Haute Couture creations of the 1950s and 1960s, but also other collections, including Cosmocorps with its line: the space age, a premonitory exploration of gender fluidity.

In a lively text, Jean-Pascal Hesse draws on a wide range of sources gathered over more than two decades, from Pierre Cardin’s personal memories to numerous unpublished photos and documents relating his early years in the fashion world.

Pierre Cardin was a designer for Christian Dior, a huge success in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, a deep interest in Japanese art and design, and the mutual fascination of the Japanese with his work.

Pierre Cardin’s many talents were so vast that it is difficult to name them all. Among them: a perfect mastery of materials ranging from fabrics to plastics, extending from Haute Couture to ready-to-wear, from men’s fashion to jewellery, from furniture design to perfumes and accessories… The business acumen of this exceptional man led him to create an extensive commercial empire between China, Europe, and the United States.

Jean-Pascal Hesse, Director of Communications for the Pierre Cardin Group, agreed to give an exclusive interview to Airs de Paris!


Pierre Cardin, Mode, Mythe et Modernité -2.- 450x 612


The photos in your book are rare and beautiful. How did you choose them?


Most of the photos are unpublished. We found them after Pierre Cardin’s death. They showed a different view of Pierre Cardin’s fashion, and accurately expressed the design concept he defined. His fashion started from his beginnings and continued over time.

My main interests in this book was to show his design but also something else, everything that the public did not know or thought they knew. I was lucky enough to find many clichés. Pierre Cardin was such a different character! The Japanese photographer Yoshi Takata worked a lot for him. Pierre Pelegry, director at Maxim’s, inherited these images and some of them are spectacular! Yoshi was a close collaborator of Pierre Cardin. She also took a lot of pictures at the beginning of her career. These black and white shots are superb. I learned and discovered from this artist. It will be a surprise for everyone!


In your book, we can feel a deep attachment to Pierre Cardin!


It’s true, I’ve always had this sensitivity, I was close to him. I worked alongside him for twenty-seven years. So, my feelings are inevitably bonded with him. I am a trained historian, also an art historian. My destiny is pure chance because I should have been an auctioneer! But… I failed my entrance exam.  The director of public relations at Pierre Cardin was a friend of mine. So, I was introduced to the designer who was looking for someone to work in his press department. That’s how it happened, naturally.


In your eyes, was Pierre Cardin a man of “globalisation” before its time?


Pierre Cardin had this vision before anyone else! He was at the origin of ready-to-wear clothing. He was one of the first to decide to make a brand out of this name. One of his first trips was to Japan, then very quickly to China. Pierre wanted to bring fashion to the streets, by selling his name, his brand, and his style to as many people as possible. So, globalisation… you might as well say that he thought about it before it happened! Pierre Cardin celebrated his 70th anniversary… It’s quite astonishing all this success, this recognition, this fame for a couturier… What incredible financial independence! This genius imagined licenses to exist abroad before others! Pierre Cardin was the owner of everything. He is such an independant man and always delicated to his work. It is extraordinary!


How did Pierre Cardin evolve?


In this book you will see that his fashion has evolved, which means that the couturier has been able to adapt to changes, to deep needs.  Of course, the fifties are widely honoured. This great couturier was fascinated by the conquest of space and many of his clothes proved it. He thought that one day man would walk on the moon… The galaxy inspired him… How right he was! However, his visionary fashion was sometimes difficult to wear. He was a designer far ahead of his time! Other designers followed him. Perhaps we could mention Jean-Paul Gautier who worked for him.


Will there be an after Pierre Cardin?


Of course, there will! The fashion of this great couturier is perpetuated, thanks to a studio full of young designers, talented people that he trained throughout his career. The “Cardin” codes remain alive and well! This year, for the first time, an eco-responsible collection was designed.

Within the Pierre Cardin house, we have the will and the duty to respect his spirit and to readapt it to the tastes and the spirit of the times. His style remains timeless, whether you like it or not. After the death of certain couturiers such as Chanel, Dior and Lagerfeld, their spirit has been perpetuated. Pierre Cardin’s codes  and DNA must be kept. The identity of the brand will remain for eternity.


Was Pierre Cardin interested in “eco-responsible” concepts?


Pierre Cardin was close to nature. He was one of the first fashion designers to use fur.  Conscientious, he stopped and then made fake fur in the seventies. It’s fair to say that he was once again a precursor!


What was his strength ?


He knew how to keep confidence in himself. He never doubted his talent. He moved forward, sure of himself. He knew he would succeed. Did he have a revenge to take on life? His childhood was difficult. As a child, he arrived from Italy with penniless parents. This memory was certainly painful for him… like a scar that must be repaired. He knew how to bounce back with finesse and intelligence…

His strength was to look higher, relentlessly. Pierre Cardin also had this thirst for freedom. He wanted everything to be possible. How much he would suffer today because today it is all much more complicated.

Pierre Cardin will remain a legendary couturier. Talent and taste are not enough, only style counts.

“My entry among the Immortals was a very important moment because there had never been an academician couturier.” This is the conclusion of a quote from a great man who was received under the Dome!


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