Museum  August 5, 2019  Chandra Noyes

10 Futuristic Looks from Legendary Fashion Designer Pierre Cardin

Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin vinyl eyewear, 1970.

The groundbreaking designs of Pierre Cardin have been giving us a look at the future for nearly seven decades. This fall, experience his vision of a new world in Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, open now at the Brooklyn Museum. Featuring more than 170 objects, including readymade and haute couture clothing and accessories, as well as furniture, his work since the 1950s has defined the avant-garde, pushing the fashion industry and the general public to use their imaginations in picturing the future of fashion.

Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery

Eddie Adams (American, 1933–2004). Pierre Cardin, 1974. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute; gift of Time magazine, Briscoe Center for American History, NPG.78.TC276. © Estate of Eddie Adams.

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.

Pierre Cardin vinyl eyewear, 1970.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin vinyl eyewear, 1970.

Pierre Cardin “Pagoda” jackets in leather, 1979.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin “Pagoda” jackets in leather, 1979.

Terry O'Neill (British, born 1938). Raquel Welch in a Pierre Cardin outfit featuring a miniskirt and necklace in blue vinyl, worn with a Plexiglas visor, 1970.
Image courtesy of Iconic Images. © Terry O’Neill / Iconic Images

Terry O'Neill (British, born 1938). Raquel Welch in a Pierre Cardin outfit featuring a miniskirt and necklace in blue vinyl, worn with a Plexiglas visor, 1970.

Pierre Cardin developing his "Computer" coat, 1980.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin developing his "Computer" coat, 1980.

Pierre Cardin sequined “Parabolic” gown, 1992.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin sequined “Parabolic” gown, 1992.

Pierre Cardin two-tone jersey dresses, with vinyl waders, 1969.
Yoshi Takata. © Pierre Pelegry

Pierre Cardin two-tone jersey dresses, with vinyl waders, 1969.

Pierre Cardin “Cardine” dress, 1968.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin “Cardine” dress, 1968.

Pierre Cardin linen pants, 1972.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin linen pants, 1972.

Pierre Cardin wool dress with cutouts, 1971.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin wool dress with cutouts, 1971.

Pierre Cardin "Computer" coats, 1980.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin. © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin "Computer" coats, 1980.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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