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Pierre Cardin is an Italian-born French fashion designer best known for his haute couture geometric avant-garde designs.
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Pierre Cardin is an Italian-born French high fashion designer best known for his geometric avant-garde designs. In the 1960s his use of stark tunics, goggles and helmets launched the Space Age look. Cardin expanded into the automobile market in the early '70s and designed haute couture muscle car interiors. He now owns a chain of Maxim hotels and restaurants.
Fashion designer Pierre Cardin was born on July 2, 1922, to French parents in San Biagio di Callalta, Italy (near Venice). Cardin became interested in fashion early. He eventually went to work for a tailor in Vichy, France. There, he began to hone the skills that would make him one of the most successful designers of the 20th century.
Cardin moved to Paris in 1945, at the end of World War II. During his first five years in France's capital city, Cardin jumped rapidly from job to job. He found work in the Paquin fashion house, started by famous dress designer Jeanne Paquin, who died before Cardin's time there. Cardin moved from Paquin to the Schiaperelli fashion house that same year.
Also in 1945, he became acquainted with French film director Jean Cocteau. Cocteau hired Cardin to design dresses for his film La belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast), which premiered in 1946, the same year that Cardin began work at Christian Dior's newly opened fashion house.
Cardin is credited with helping to design Dior's "New Look," a style of dress intended to emphasize femininity in women's clothing after the period of women taking on traditionally masculine roles during World War II. Although he was once part of a team that helped design a style that accentuated womanliness, Cardin is now best known for creating clothes that have the exact opposite effect. His cuts are often said to be planar, geometric and even irreverent of the female form.
Pierre Cardin left Dior to start his own company in 1950. He started out by designing clothing for stage productions, but soon built up a client base. Christian Dior sent Cardin roses as congratulations, and, a much more important gesture of encouragement, directed his overflow clients to Cardin's new business.
Cardin says of his company's beginning, "I started with 20 people. I was successful immediately." In 1953, Cardin released his first collection of women's clothing and became a member of the Chambre Syndicale, a French association of haute couture designers. In 1954, he opened his first boutique for women, called Eve. That same year, his bubble dresses became an international success. The design is still popular today: a loose-fitting dress is tightened near the waistline, broadens and then is brought back in at the hem, creating a "bubble" effect.
Soon, though, Cardin was looking outside France for inspiration. He visited Japan in 1957, becoming one of the first Western designers to seek out Eastern influences. In Japan, he scoped out business opportunities while studying the country's fashions for new ideas.
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