Early Training

Born in Italy of French parents on 2 July 1922, the designer was originally named Pietro Cardini. After several years in Venice, however, his family relocated to France. As a young man Cardin briefly studied architecture before joining the house of Paquin in 1945. His tenure there gave him the opportunity of working with Christian Berard and Jean Cocteau on the 1946 film La Belle et la bete, for which he created the velvet costume for the Beast, played by Jean Marais. After a brief stint with Elsa Schi-aparelli, Cardin worked under the auspices of Christian Dior from 1946 until he went out on his own in 1950. Cardin honed his superb tailoring skills heading up Dior's coat and suit workroom. Cardin's own business was first located on the rue Richepanse (renamed rue du Chevalier de Saint-George), but later moved to the famed rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, where the designer launched his first couture collection in 1953. In 1954 Cardin opened a boutique called Eve, followed by Adam for men in 1957.

From the beginning, Cardin showed himself to be an innovator and a rebel. He was quoted as saying, "For me, the fabric is nearly secondary. I believe first in shape, architecture, the geometry of a dress" (Lobenthal, p. 151). His experimentation with fabrics embraced geometric abstraction without losing sight of the human figure.

George Geometric Dress

Pierre Cardin minidress. Cardin designed clothes that epitomized the mod look of the early 1 960s, creating fashions with a minimalist look that featured clean lines and geometric shapes. This dress features the Cardin trademark bullseye. Bulls-

eye minidress by Pierre Cardin (c. 1965). Gift of Lois Watson. Courtesy of the Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas. Photo by Abraham Bencid, copyright 1995.

Pierre Cardin minidress. Cardin designed clothes that epitomized the mod look of the early 1 960s, creating fashions with a minimalist look that featured clean lines and geometric shapes. This dress features the Cardin trademark bullseye. Bulls-

eye minidress by Pierre Cardin (c. 1965). Gift of Lois Watson. Courtesy of the Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas. Photo by Abraham Bencid, copyright 1995.

Cardin's ability to sculpt fabric with an architectural sensibility became his signature. Making garments with impeccable craftsmanship, Cardin possessed the skills and vision to make his dreams a wearable reality. Even during the 1970s, when his dresses shifted from a sculpted look to a more draped silhouette, the fluidity of his work remained formal. Cardin was highly successful as a couturier, but he also sought to redefine the field of fashion design commercially. For his efforts in launching a ready-to-wear line alongside his couture collection, however, Cardin's membership in the prestigious Chambre Syndicale was revoked in 1959. Cardin was soon reinstated, but voluntarily resigned from the Chambre in 1966.

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Dress Making

Dress Making

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