In the backward 1950s, advocate French clothier Pierre Cardin bankrupt ranks in Paris appearance by presenting the aboriginal ready-to-wear collections, for women and for men. Pooh-poohed by his confreres for actuality too democratic, he was arbitrarily kicked out of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, the administering anatomy of French appearance at the time. Cardin, who died in Paris Tuesday at the age of 98, didn’t care. “I was built-in an artiste,” he told the New York Times in 1987, “but I am a businessman.”
Indeed, he was. Having started in appearance in Paris afterwards the war, as an abettor at Paquin, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Christian Dior, he addled out on his own in 1950, eventually acceptable the baron of licensing, with his name formed on aggregate from cottony scarves to cigarettes. In the 1960s, Cardin was acclaimed for his adequate Space Age designs for women. But it was his menswear that had a absolutely abiding impact. He acclimatized the collarless neckline of India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s jackets for suits, creating a attending still apparent today. He cut apparel lean—small shoulders, aerial armholes, a tight, tailored waist—a contour aloft which Hedi Slimane has congenital his career. Twenty years ago, back Cardin was 78 and still alive at his flat on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, he sat bottomward for a babble about menswear. The account remained unpublished, until now.
Dana Thomas: Back did you barrage your menswear line?
Pierre Cardin: In 1958. At the time, men’s appearance came from England and Italy. I was the aboriginal to do artisan menswear in Paris. I showed it at the Hôtel Crillon and I asked university acceptance to archetypal it, because I capital to accompany adolescence to my fashion. It was the aboriginal time anyone did that. I absolutely chaotic adult fashion.
Why did you adjudge to go into menswear?
I capital to dress myself. And I thought: Why do the Italians and the British architecture menswear, and not the French?
What was appearance like at that time for Frenchmen?
There was no fashion for men in Paris. Well-dressed Frenchmen went to London to get clothing, made-to-measure. Aggregate abroad was actual ordinary.
Was your band for Frenchmen alone?
No, it was for the absolute world. I capital to access men’s appearance the aforementioned way I had afflicted women’s fashion.
Why did you anticipate of ablution men’s appearance at that time?
I was 25 years old and I capital to be actual elegant. People told me how I had my own way of bathrobe and that I was elegant. That’s the array of appearance I capital to create, and it formed actual well.
How has appearance architecture afflicted back then?
Before, those of us who formed in appearance accustomed education. We formed for old houses, apprenticed. Now, anyone who can draw or can’t draw is backed by money, is accustomed a name. It’s so superficial.
Is it important to be consistently well-dressed?
I can ascertain addition by the way he is dressed—if he is an intellectual, an artist, ordinary, refined. If he has acceptable or bad taste. If he brand to abet with colors. If he is discreet. We can ascertain aggregate with clothing. That’s what amazing.
What is the Cardin silhouette?
Like a tube, cylindrical. It’s actual adamantine to accomplish in factories.
What do you anticipate of atramentous tie?
A man in a cape is actual nice. Even if he is ugly, abbreviate or fat, a cape gives him a assertive class.
At Versailles, the men were bigger dressed than the women.
As well-dressed, certainly. Men of the cloister had alone this to anguish about back they got up in the morning. They put on their make-up, anchored their hair, got dressed in alertness for cafeteria at the court. That was their job.
And today? Will menswear will become fashionable again?
Certainly. It’s a cycle.
Dana Thomas is a Paris-based appearance biographer and the columnist of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Appearance and the Future of Clothes.
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