The French visionary designer Pierre Cardin has died aged 98 at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a hospital near Paris. The Fine Arts Academy announced his death in a tweet on Tuesday. He had been among its illustrious members since 1992. Cardin revolutionised fashion starting in the early 1950s. In a career of more than three-quarters of a century, he clothed famous artists, political luminaries, tastemakers and members of the haute bourgeoisie but created for the masses, too. His designs were influenced by geometric shapes, often rendered in man-made fabrics like silver foil, paper and brightly colored vinyl. Pierre Cardin used his name as a brand. When France was fashion’s uncontested epicenter, he was bringing his designs to Moscow, Tokyo and Beijing. In 1983, Cardin became the first French couturier to penetrate the Soviet Union. “Fashion is always ridiculous, seen from before or after. But in the moment, it’s marvellous,” Cardin said in a 1970 interview with French television. How to describe his innovative vision ? It’s about futuristic looks.
Gowns and bodysuits in fluorescent spandex were fitted with plastic hoops that stood away from the body at the waist, elbows, wrists and knees. Bubble dresses and capes enveloped their wearers in oversized spheres of fabric. Cardin’s name was carried by thousands of products, from wristwatches to bed sheets. “I was born an artist,” he told The Times in 1987, “but I am a businessman.” Cardin bought Maxim’s restaurants in 1981 and soon opened branches in New York, London, and Beijing. Cardin owned a palazzo in Venice. In 2001, he purchased the ruins of the castle in Lacoste, Vaucluse that was once inhabited by the Marquis de Sade and held music or dance festivals.