During the “groovie sixties” there were very few names that mattered when it came to fashion.
It was a revolutionary time, both socially and culturally, the ushering of the space age, the first real economic boom after the apocalyptic events of a War that had ravaged Europe just 20 years before.
In fashion, no one embodied the dynamic sensibilities of a changing world better than Pierre Cardin did; he was the first of the European designers to venture into China, back then a closed and mysterious entity under the rule of Mao Tse-tung . With his futuristic design and geometrical shapes, Pierre Cardin was the synonym for avant-garde style.
Since his first Cylinder men’s collection, shown on 250 French students in 1960, Cardin has defied the conventions of men’s wear, while building an empire with licensed goods including classic suits, shirts and ties. His designs are still the source of inspiration for the greatest designers today.
On Sunday, July 1, Pierre Cardin returns to the catwalk after 6 years of absence: his last show was in 2006.
Pierre Cardin has a fellow innovator to thank for his return to the Paris men’s wear calendar this season. Armand Hadida, artistic director of the Tranoï trade show and owner of the chain of L’Eclaireur concept stores, has invited the Space Age couturier to show at the Palais de la Bourse during the fair.
Cardin said the collection was based on belted and sleeveless jackets, in line with his lifelong fascination with futuristic silhouettes.
“Given my age and my long career, I did not want to show just well-made, classical clothes,” the designer says, “I’m interested in creating, in pushing the boundaries of fashion, in being ahead of my time, even if I get criticized for it. If people don’t like it, that’s not a problem.”
In his Paris store at 27 Avenue Marigny, conservative navy suits are displayed alongside a red vinyl bomber jacket sprouting black rubber tubes. Cardin, who turns 90 next month, is confident his avant-garde designs will be understood in time… “Everything I did 20 or 30 years ago is selling now. You might say I won’t be around in 20 years, so it doesn’t really matter,” he added with a laugh.
Hadida said the aim of the Tranoï show was to introduce the designer to a younger generation of buyers and journalists, adding that Cardin would also show his women’s collection during the fall edition of the trade event, which runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2.
“There is nothing commercial about my approach,” Hadida said. “Pierre Cardin has so much to say. He is like a fashion bible — he’s completely impervious to age.”
Indeed, Cardin’s latest project is a folly that will likely dwarf his previous achievements. On Sept. 24, he is due to attend a ceremony laying the first stone of his Palais Lumière, or Light Palace, a 790-foot high tower to be built on 125 acres of reclaimed industrial land, owned by the designer, on the border of the Venice lagoon.
“I can hardly believe it myself, it’s so unexpected,” said Cardin, noting construction should be completed by 2015, in time for the Universal Exposition in Milan, which by then should be linked to Venice by a high-speed train.
“It will have 10 restaurants, four cinemas, 50 lifts, 2,000 parking spaces, 1,400 apartments and 300 hotel rooms, in addition to a helipad,” he said. “It’s a habitable sculpture.”
Cardin is also planning a party in the fall at his Palais Bulles near Cannes, which is the subject of a coffee table book written by his right-hand man Jean-Pascal Hesse, scheduled to be published by Assouline in September.
Hadida, meanwhile, said he was in talks with an international hotel chain to take his Royal L’Eclaireur store concept worldwide. A cross between an art gallery, hotel suite and store, the original store opened a year ago at the Royal Monceau hotel in Paris.
“It’s the link between the heritage of the store and what stores will look like in the future,” said Hadida. “It’s also very complementary with our e-business sales.”
The retailer said he expected e-commerce to account for about 20 percent of total sales by the end of 2013, and was also looking for locations to open stand-alone L’Eclaireur stores in the U.S.
Parts of this article appear courtesy of WWD
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