The Bite Magazine - Spring/Summer 2021 - Issue 29

CARDIN bitedesignerprofile PIERRE Special Designer Profile E ven at the tender age of eight, Italian-French de- signer Pierre Cardin recognised his calling when he discovered an interest in dressmaking after design- ing dresses for his neighbour’s child’s dolls. He was born at his wealthy wine merchant parents' vacation home in San Biagio di Callalta near Venice, Italy, in July 1922. The fam- ily moved back to their native France, where Pierre grew up in the industrial town of St. Etienne in the Department of the Loire in southeast France. His parents had hoped he would become an architect, but Pierre’s pursuit of fashion design remained strong. In 1936, he apprenticed at Manby, a tailor based in Vichy, France and stayed there until the end of World War II. During his training, he learned the art of tailoring suits that would contribute to his later designs. After gaining experience at Jeanne Paquin and Elsa Schiaparelli, he worked at Christian Dior, whom he helped to create the New Look collection in 1947. Pierre's impressive commissioned work in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast led the French film director to in- troduce him to Christian Dior. At the time, Dior was an internationally recognised fashion designer preparing to release his latest House of Dior collection. Pierre became one of the ‘team of thirteen’ who designed much of Dior’s line over the next few years, including the ‘Bar’ line, which featured tight jackets and long black skirts. After leaving Dior in 1949, Pierre set up his fashion com- pany with the help of costume designer Marcel Escoffier the following year. He continued to make costumes for Paris’ numerous balls and other French designers, includ- ing Dior, then created his line of suits for a growing clien- tele. At the end of the 1950s, he launched his first ready- to-wear collection for the Printemps department store and soon became known as the best suit designer in Paris. The House of Cardin was established in 1953 in a six-sto- rey 18th-century mansion on the Faubourg Saint-Honore. As part of the purchase agreement, Pierre was obliged to continue a conservative men’s shop that had occupied the building’s ground floor. Unwilling to associate with tradi- tional men’s shirts and ties, the designer interestedly di- vided his fashion house into two separate boutiques for menswear and womenswear in 1954 called Adam and Eve. Referencing his early experience as a sole fashion design- er, Pierre spoke to the Paris Institute of Political Studies students at a conference in 2012. "My great stroke of geni- us was the introduction of ready-to-wear, at a time when there was only haute couture, which always loses money. They told me it wouldn’t last two years. I went full steam ahead, confident in my own idea. They criticised me [and] they imitated me.” Pierre initially made his name with the iconic bubble dress in 1954 and then the Space Age Collection in 1964. The graphically shaped cuts, military epaulettes, skirts hang- ing from metallic tops, dresses in bubbles and hoops, pinafore dresses with porthole-style cuts and bright col- ours associated with silvery hue was like George Orwell’s