Veteran Pierre Cardin flies Paris to space age
Sixty-five years after he first burst on to the fashion scene, fashionistas were treated to a rare celebration of the designer credited with inventing Paris menswear in the first place
The first couturier to put men on the Paris catwalks back in 1958, style veteran Pierre Cardin, earned fond applause if not critical acclaim on Sunday at a comeback show on the eve of his 90th birthday.
The last active survivor of the great post-war French fashion houses, Italian-born Cardin today is the owner of a sprawling luxury empire, but his catwalk shows are few and far between, his last in Paris having been a women’s line in 2010.
The legendary designer, famed for dressing the Beatles in collar-less jackets and taking high fashion to communist China, celeb-rated his long career with his first menswear catwalk show in several years, showcasing his signature space-age designs.
It was by far the most exhaustive menswear collection of the season, with a staggering 138 retro looks.
Faithful to the space-age theme that Mr Cardin has mined on and off since the 1960s, his men’s look featured broad-shouldered, sleeveless tunics in navy felt, wool tartan or diving-suit neoprene with futuristic visor shades.
Jackets had vertical slashed panels at the back or were adorned with twists of black rubber tubing, like a prickly hedgehog across the shoulders.
Unlikely colour matches paired yellow with violet or turquoise with purple, while the suit fabrics sometimes seemed to be rather too stuffy for summer.
Things took a somewhat kinky turn as a bare-chested model stepped out in shiny black patent trousers with a giant triangular bag looped over one shoulder through a disc in its centre.
Strutting their stuff in the old Paris stock exchange, Mr Cardin’s young models came off as oddly nonchalant, smirking at the cameras as if struggling to take the collection seriously.
By the time the catsuits arrived, in sequined black, brown or green velvet and leaving rather too little to the imagination, the audience was showing signs of strain as well.
But when a model lost his hat – catching it and jauntily holding it out for the audience – he got a friendly round of applause.
And when Mr Cardin stepped out for a bow, after a finale of a dozen women models in futuristic tubular dresses with hula-hoop discs in their seams, the veteran designer earned a warm and genuine ovation.
Despite his age and a resumé that spans 65 years, retirement does not seem to be in Mr Cardin’s vocabulary.
“Aesthetics is simply my craft,” said the designer backstage. “I actually still have gas-oline for tomorrow.”
The multi-millionaire, who worked with Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior in his 20s, has not been slowed by age.
“I was the youngest couturier in Paris when I started, and now I’m the oldest,” he said. “It’s extraordinary, I’m still here!”