Pierre Cardin (1950 - Present)
Pierre Cardin, born Pietro Cardin in Veneto, Italy, moved to Paris shortly after World War II to study architecture while also pursuing a career in fashion. Before founding his own house in 1950, Cardin worked with prominent designers Jeanne Paquin and Elsa Schiaparelli and spent several years as the head of Christian Dior’s tailleur atelier. Cardin’s career as a haute couture designer was launched when he designed 30 costumes for Venice’s “party of the century”, an extravagant masquerade ball held in 1951. Cardin shocked the fashion world in 1959 when he presented the first ready-to-wear collection by a couture designer, later explaining his decision by saying “I asked myself why should only the rich be able to afford exclusive fashion, why not the man and woman on the street as well? I can change that! And I did.” Immediately expelled from the Chambre Syndicale, Paris’ association of couture designers, Cardin established his own venue to show collections, the Espace Cardin, several years later. Throughout his career, Cardin displayed an interest in the sculptural qualities of cut and fine construction and became known for his experimental avant-garde style, focusing on geometric shapes and motifs rather than designing for the female form. His iconic space-age collection, which embraced helmets, goggles, metal body jewelry, unisex jumpsuits and geometrically blocked shifts, is his most highly regarded achievement and played a major role in defining the 1960s mod look. After a 15-year break, Cardin presented a new collection to a small group of journalists in 1994 and continues to run his fashion empire from his home in Paris today.