What do you think about when you read the name Pierre Cardin? Discount boxer shorts, cardigans with a single cashmere portion and a key fob from the garbage table? Yes, that's what the name stands for. But if you want to get to know the man, whose glossiness continues to benefit from innumerable licensed products, the fashion designer, whose haute couture once revolutionized the fashion world and still looks modern today, should not go to the department store, but to the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf.
"Pierre Cardin, Fashion Futurist" is an apt name for the designer's first extensive retrospective in Germany. It does not follow a strict chronology, but picks up the red thread that draws thematically through its entire activity. Along 80 skin-couture dresses, the story is told of the man born in 1922 as Pietro Cardin, who first invented the "New Look" with Dior and later added a completely new facet to fashion under the name of Pierre Cardin.
"My favorite clothes are those I create for a life that does not exist yet, for the world of tomorrow," he once said. The best example of this is Cardin's space fashion: one piece, cocktail dresses, tunics, helmets, visors, belts and vests. The designs are still futuristic today.
Bright colors, geometric shapes and unusual constructions – in the evening attire like to be driven to the extreme by sewn-in hoops as in his famous tube dress, which got an almost sculptural form from the supporting elements. His coats and dresses made Cardin preferably without pattern, he drew little. He loves the live work with scissors, which is proven by some parts with cut-outs.
He has little left over for delicate ornaments or patterned fabrics. Presumably it is also due to this fact that Cardins Space Age clothes have aged so much better than many other fashion from that time. Some of what looks like Swinging Sixties here actually came about ten, twenty, even thirty years later.
Also technically visionary
Cardin was also technically ahead of his time. He lunged at the newly developed, synthetic materials. Vinyl, Lycra or Plexiglas promised completely new possibilities for forms and textures. He even invented his own fabric: "Cardine", a synthetic thermal fiber that can be individually modeled by the action of heat. In Dusseldorf testify two dresses, which were embossed with relief-like patterns. Even with the natural materials, the Frenchman liked to use sophisticated versions such as woolen crepe or jersey.
Despite all the extravagance, most Cardins actually look pretty cozy. Freedom of movement provides stretchy materials or generous cuts. All-purpose clothing: One-piece or dresses that are easy to get dressed in a flash, which are as casual as they are elegant and also suitable for traveling.
Fashion for modern women
Thus, Pierre Cardin supported much earlier than other designers, a modern image of women, in which the woman of course traveled and worked, instead of just standing around decoratively. But he also rendered a service to the men. He was the first of the great French couturiers to have a men's line in his assortment. From 1959, his haute couture house also produced ready-to-wear fashion. At that time a sensation.
During this time Cardin also forgave the first license for his name. Several more should follow. For glasses, watches, perfumes, furniture and much more. At some point, his company network comprised hundreds of companies and nearly a thousand license agreements. Businesses that bring him so much that he is financially independent and enjoys artistically perfect freedom. To date, the 97-year-old is the sole owner of his fashion empire and thus an absolute exception in his industry.
The focus of the exhibition is on clothing from the sixties and seventies. The latest design dates back to 2017. In addition to the clothes and accessories, meter-high video screens showcase the rich designer heritage of the French, while in the background, spherical synth music sounds. "Pierre Cardin, Fashion Futurist" – a nice and funny trip through time. Until 5 January 2020 at the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf.