Born in Italy in 1922, Cardin spent most of his life in France, where he aspired to work in fashion from an early age, beginning his career with an apprenticeship at the age of 14. After World War II, he began working for the fashion house of Paquin, before moving on to work at Christian Dior.
In 1950, he founded his own house, making haute couture costumes and gowns. In 1959 he scandalized the high fashion world by launching a ready-to-wear line for the masses. Cardin’s “mod” styles included mini and maxi skirts paired with bell sleeves, using bold shapes and forms, all of which emphasized the wearer’s movement. He also created the first-ever unisex line of clothing and was the first to market his clothing truly globally, bringing him huge success.
In the 1960s with the space race dominating the public eye, Cardin launched his “Cosmocorps” collection, using unconventional materials like vinyl to create futuristic looks that played off of real spacesuits. His groundbreaking designs were favored by major celebrities including Raquel Welch and Jackie Kennedy and were used in film and theater.
Ever the innovator, Cardin has continued to push boundaries. He has created his own synthetic fabric, called “Cardine,” which can be molded into geometric forms, giving his clothing an architectural quality, and expanding what fabric was previously capable of. At 96, Pierre Cardin’s name is known around the world, and he has seen his works paraded in a fashion show on the Great Wall of China, but he still comes to work every day and looks to the future of design. Here are 10 ground-breaking looks that show Pierre Cardin’s boundless innovation.