All About Pierre Cardin

An brief biography of Pierre Cardin, his life, his work, and his business empire.

Known for his bold designs, Pierre Cardin revolutionized fashion.The first designer to embrace ready-to-wear clothes, he created an empire that spans the globe.

Pierre Cardin was born in Venice, Italy in 1922 to French parents, both wine merchants.When he was four, his family moved back to France and he grew up in the Loire Valley region.He moved to Paris to study architecture, but soon shifted his interest to fashion design.He obtained work as an assistant in the house of Paquin where he helped to design the costumes for Jean Cocteau's (1946) film, Beauty and the Beast. He also worked for Elsa Schiaparelli and later joined Christian Dior as the head of his design studio.

Cardin left Dior in 1950 to open his own Haute Couture house and followed soon after with his first boutique on the Rue du Faubourg St. Honore. Pierre Cardin's ready-to-wear line, the first of its kind, launched in 1959, scandalized the fashion powers in France who expelled him for attempting to make designer clothing more accessible.They later reinstated him, but he never showed his collections with them again.


Pierre Cardin is known for his "space suits" of the 60s, his metal body jewelry, and as the inventor of the "bubble dress." His early designs were dramatic, bold, and often irregular in cut.His unisex fashions were often more experimental than practical.

His designs have conquered the world.Pierre Cardin was the first couturier designer to target the Japanese market when he visited there in 1959. In 1978, he signed production agreements with the Soviet Union.The next year, he organized a trade agreement with the People's Republic of China to produce Pierre Cardin clothes, one of the first western companies to do business in China.In 1983, he opened the first western-owned restaurant in China, Maxim's.

Today, the Pierre Cardin empire employs over 180,000 workers in 70 countries. His fashion lines include menswear, eyewear, fragrance, women's fashion, and lingerie. His name appears on products from fashion to wine, bicycles to furniture.Pierre Cardin licenses over 840 products in 98 countries. He owns the Maxim's hotel and restaurant chain that includes restaurants in five countries and a product line of gourmet foods.A tireless businessman, he boasts that he has never borrowed a franc from the bank. He has become the world's richest Haute Couture designer, but despite his success, he shuns advertising.

The Pierre Cardin empire is headquartered in the "Espace Cardin," a former Parisian theater he transformed into his corporate base and design showroom.This vast space on the Champs-Elysees acts as an artistic complex encouraging young artists and designers.Also included within the building are an art gallery, movie theater, and restaurant.

M. Cardin was named UNESCO honorary ambassador in 1991.He is also a member of the prestigious Acadamie Francaise.His designs are featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Pierre Cardin is still active in the business.He lives is Paris and collects Boule furniture, parrots, and couture clothing which he showcases in a personal "dress museum"

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