French designer Pierre Cardin dies at age 98

A household name for those growing up in the 1990s.

Belmont Lay | December 30, 2020, 03:06 AM

French designer Pierre Cardin has died at the age of 98.

His death was announced on Twitter by France’s Fine Arts Academy.

He died in hospital in Neuilly, near Paris, his family told Agence France-Presse.

Cardin was well-known for his bold, space-age designs in the late 1950s.

In the 1960s, he went on to dress Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and the Beatles, whose collarless jackets were inspired by Cardin and worn on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Cardin went on to take his brand international, earning him millions.

Seven-decade career

Cardin's career lasted more than seven decades.

But it was his business acumen that made Pierre Cardin a household name.

A household name due to licensing of name

He licensed and affixed his name and initials on to everyday items, such as pens, clocks, trousers and shoes, and subsequently, even hotels, perfumes and restaurants, as he became a branding pioneer.

His steady stream of revenue meant he brought the inaccessible world of high fashion to the masses.

Pierre Cardin-brand goods are sold in more than 140 countries on five continents.

Early life

Cardin was born near Treviso in Italy in 1922.

He was the youngest of 11 children.

His family fled Mussolini’s regime and moved to France as a child.

Lore has it that he learned to be a tailor aged 17 working alongside the Red Cross.


By 1959, he shocked Paris' fashion establishment by showing fashionable, ready-to-wear clothes for women at the department store Printemps.

The everyday consumer had, at that time, been kept away from couture.

He was expelled from the guild of French fashion designers.

In 1960, Cardin was back, this time with his first ready-to-wear menswear, that included the collarless jackets favoured by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Cardin’s interest in the Apollo space programme led Nasa to commission him to create a spacesuit in 1969.

Cardin was also a pathbreaker.

In 1979, he became the first French designer to trade with China, when the Mao era had come to an end.

In 1983, he became the first to trade in the Soviet Union.

Brand lost its shine by 2000s

Ahead of his time he was, as the Pierre Cardin brand lost its lustre by the 2000s.

In 2011, Cardin put his fashion label up for sale for €1 billion, but it failed to find a buyer.

In a statement to the press, Cardin’s family praised his “tenacious ambition and the daring he has shown throughout his life”, as well as his contribution “early on into the flow of globalisation”.

Top photo via Getty