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Italian-French Fashion Designer and Visionary Pierre Cardin Dies at 98

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(Photo : Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images) Pierre Cardin at the Opening Cocktail of Musee Pierre Cardin on November 13, 2014 in Paris, France.

French fashion was never the same once designer Pierre Cardin entered the scene and now, he leaves it at the age of 98. According to the New York Times, Cardin's death was confirmed on Tuesday by the French Academy of Fine Arts. BBC News reports that his family has released a statement through the AFP news agency saying, "It is a day of great sadness for all our family. Pierre Cardin is no more. We are all proud of his tenacious ambition and the daring he has shown throughout his life."


Humble Beginnings

Pierre Cardin was born in a small town near Venice in Italy on July 7, 1922. His working-class family then moved to Saint-Étienne in central France when he was still a child and it was there that he studied and began to apprentice as a tailor at the age of 14. He soon moved to Paris and he began his career in fashion working for different firms. Starting in 1945, Cardin worked as an assistant in the House of Paquin and helped design costumes for French poet, playwright, and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. In Cocteau's 1946 film Beauty and the Beast, Cardin was part of the design team for the film's elaborate costumes. He also worked briefly with Christian Dior, whom he helped create the New Look collection in 1947.

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Making A Name For Himself

By 1950, he had his own fashion company and made a name for himself with futuristic shapes and textiles. He is responsible for the iconic bubble dress and his visionary Space Age Collection cemented his status as a top fashion designer. Andrew Bolton, the head curator at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, told the New York Times that Cardin embraced technology and loved the idea of progress. NASA even commissioned him to interpret the spacesuit and this served as an inspiration in his future designs.  

While designing for the upper crust and celebrities like Lauren Becall and The Beatles, the enterprising designer also launched ready-to-wear collections and affixed his fancy cursive signature on items such as ashtrays, sunglasses, pens, bedsheets, and handkerchiefs.

Worldwide Presence

In the late 1950s, Cardin brought his designs to far-flung countries including China and Japan and realized that the market was very open in Asia and Central Europe. By the 1960s, he made his designs available for mass production in China. In 1983, Cardin became the first French designer to successfully penetrate the Soviet Union. His designs were produced in Soviet factories and were sold under his eponymous label in Moscow. Whilst conquering the worldwide fashion scene, the licensing of his name continued, and it was embossed on accessories like belts, wallets, and footwear to fragrances to household products and furniture. Even chocolates, cigarettes, alarm clocks and cassette tapes were not spared from Cardin's savvy business sense. Recently, even android tablets also bore the Cardin signature. At his core, Cardin was a businessman, and he was very proud of making his own way.

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