Pierre Cardin, Fashion's Ultimate Futurist

The Brooklyn Museum's retrospective blasts off with the famed designer’s out-of-this-world collections.

The Brooklyn Museum's retrospective blasts off with the famed designer’s out-of-this-world collections.

The human figure never fazed Pierre Cardin. His decades-long career consists of boxy, futuristic designs and forward-thinking unisex ensembles which are currently featured in “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion,” an unmissable retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum. While the multifaceted designer is commonly known for dreaming up Space Age looks, “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion” touches upon everything from his “couture” furniture to a recent menswear collection—no small feat for the 97-year-old. 

“The Brooklyn Museum has a history of sharing stories of trailblazing artists and individuals,” says Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture. “This is the perfect place to shed light on a man who disrupted his field and made so many remarkable advances in fashion. The exhibition traces several decades of Cardin’s career and separates his vision for the future. Many of the looks have never been seen outside of France.”

Two-tone jersey dresses with vinyl waders, 1969. (Photo by Yoshi Takata courtesy of Brooklyn Museum)

Cardin began his career as a tailor for Christian Dior in 1946, and established his namesake atelier shortly after. It didn’t take long for his signature “bubble dresses” to become a worldwide success, but his design journey ended up venturing light years beyond fashion. As his couture furniture suggests, Cardin experienced equally impressive entrances into industrial design. In the late 1970s, he conceived of an airplane’s interior and exterior—a testament to his design capabilities and perhaps a cheeky nod to his galactic looks. His expertise ranges from haute-couture to childrenswear, as well as air travel, perfumery, and furniture design, and he has already been the subject of multiple retrospectives.  

Drawn from Cardin’s atelier and archive, “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion” encompasses more than 170 of his looks, including historical and contemporary haute couture, prêt-à-porter, trademark accessories, lighting, fashion sketches, personal photographs, and excerpts from television, documentaries, and feature films. “One thing to remember is Pierre Cardin’s creative side—he’s a designer who distinguishes himself among others with his creativity, his uniqueness, and the fact that he was so far ahead of his time,” says Jean-Pascal Hesse.

Installation view. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

“Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion” is on view from July 20 to Jan. 5, 2020 at the Brooklyn Museum.

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