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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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The Japanese fashion school Bunka Fukusoi made him an honorary professor, and he taught a one-month class there on three-dimensional cuts. Also in 1957, Cardin opened his first boutique for men in Paris, called Adam.
Two years later, in 1959, Cardin was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale. The most commonly told version of the story is that his expulsion was related to his creation of a ready-to-wear line for women being sold in the Paris department store Printemps. At the time, haute couture designers worked exclusively for private clients, for whom clothes were custom-made, so Cardin's move was seen as a threat to the traditional values of the fashion world. Another version of the story has Cardin resigning from the organization in protest of its banning of press coverage.
Whatever the case may be, the decision to make haute couture fashion available to people other than private clients was a first for a prominent French designer. It was also telling of what Cardin's business would become: a corporation less concerned with the traditional business model of a Paris fashion house and more focused on participating in lucrative endeavors.
Cardin himself has said, "I've done it all! I even have my own water! I'll do perfumes, sardines. Why not? During the war, I would have rather smelled the scent of sardines than of perfume. If someone asked me to do toilet paper, I'd do it. Why not?" Cardin was soon reinstated to the Chambre Syndicale.
The 1960s were a varied and successful period for Pierre Cardin. In the first years of the decade, he began to design clothes inspired by science. This would become known simply as the "Space Age look." Interestingly, just as Japanese fashion had inspired Cardin years before, some Japanese designers are still heavily influenced by the futuristic style that Cardin pioneered.
Another success for Cardin came in 1966, when, after rounding up "all the triplets in Paris" to be the models for its debut, Cardin released his first clothing line for children. The 1960s also saw Cardin's introduction of a new casual style of men's dress clothing that had a major impact on the look of American and British menswear.
In the decades since then, the Pierre Cardin fashion house has grown into an empire. Cardin has licensed large numbers of diverse products to carry his famous initials. Some of these products include furniture, frying pans, bottled water, and a select number of 1973 AMC Javelin cars. He also owns a restaurant chain called Maxim's. Cardin's extensive use of branding has brought much criticism from other high fashion designers, but it seems to be becoming the industry norm rather than staying the exception.
Pierre Cardin has inspired controversy in other areas, as well. He owns a castle in the small town of Lacoste, France that formerly belonged to the Marquis de Sade. Cardin has spent millions acquiring land and property in the area, with plans to make it a hot-spot resort, often remarking that this is a way of saving the southeastern French village.
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