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Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion

The legendary designer who ranged from couture to furniture.

Brooklyn Museum

20th July 2019 – 5th January 2020

By Judith Gura / 25th July 2019
Model wearing Pierre Cardin blue wool vest with leather details, 1992 COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

Model wearing Pierre Cardin blue wool vest with leather details, 1992
COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM of Art has opened a traffic-stopping exhibition honouring French designer Pierre Cardin, who at the age of 97 is still sketching new ideas at the Paris haute couture business he founded in 1950. Cardin first made news with avant-garde clothing inspired by the space-age, and in 1959 upended the industry by introducing the concept of prêt-à-porter (ready to wear) fashion. But perhaps the most influential aspect of his business was his venture into licensing, which resulted, by the mid-1980s, in some 850 licences for a variety of products ranging from furniture to luggage – including cologne, wristwatches, pens and even keychains. A quick search of auction house and resale sites still turns up dozens of vintage Cardin items (mostly clothing) as well as assorted objects from current licensees (there are still some 300 of them).

Installation view, ‘Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion’ COURTESY: Jonathan Dorado, Brooklyn Museum

Pierre Cardin, ‘cabinet’, 2018
COURTESY: Jonathan Dorado, Brooklyn Museum

The exhibition, ‘Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion’, has been theatrically designed by curator Matthew Yokobosky, and includes almost 300 different objects drawn primarily from the Cardin archives. Omitting both ready-to-wear and licensed products, it restricts the presentation to his most innovative and most original ideas for women’s and men’s clothing, accompanied by film clips and vintage photographs that recall the “youthquake” and fascination with the future that inspired Cardin and the public in the decades after World War II.

Pierre Cardin sequinned ‘Parabolic’ gown, 1992 COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin sequinned ‘Parabolic’ gown, 1992
COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

Fortunately, however, a handful of Cardin’s custom furniture designs are also in the show. His furniture boutique on Paris’s rue du Faubourg St. Honoré opened in 1975, and has been producing custom pieces for an elite clientele since that time, although the licensed Cardin collection of furniture and lighting – introduced in 1977, and called  “shimmering and sartorial” by the New York Times – lasted for only a few years.

François Cante-Pacos for Espace Pierre Cardin, ‘chair’, 1973 COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

François Cante-Pacos for Espace Pierre Cardin, ‘chair’, 1973
COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

 

Pierre Cardin, ‘Junior Unit’ chest, 1979-80 COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin, ‘Junior Unit’ chest, 1979-80
COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

The massive cabinets, bed, desk and storage units in the exhibition, finished in exotic wood or elegant, high-gloss lacquer (in colours like brilliant blue and grassy green) evoke the geometric silhouettes and ornament of his clothing, and are ample evidence of Cardin’s ability to translate his couture skills into another area. Cardin once said, “Make sleeves to dresses, or feet to a table – it’s the same thing.” Design collectors would be wise to take a look, and decide for themselves. ‘Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion’ will be on view until 5th January, 2020.

Pierre Cardin developing his ‘Computer’ coat, 1980 COURTESY: COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin developing his ‘Computer’ coat, 1980
COURTESY: © Archives Pierre Cardin

The Brooklyn Museum an art museum located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

Article By

Judith Gura
Judith Gura is a New York-based writer and lecturer with a special focus on contemporary design. She has been covering the design market for the past two decades, and has published a number of books on modern design, furniture and interiors.