5 Fun Facts about Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Couture Muse, Pierre Cardin

Read up on the '60s icon and his space-age fabulousness so you don't have to pretend to know what everyone is talking about

Jean-Paul Gaultier is known to go gangbuststers with his themes, sparing no detail, and having a knack for putting his own special touch on any concept he presents. As such, one would think it would be a bit tricky for Gaultier to draw inspiration from another designer—especially one whose aesthetic is so different from his own, like Pierre Cardin, to whom JPG’s Spring 2018 couture collection was an homage. Cardin, who sat front row at the show, is a storied French couturier who shifted the couture landscape in the 1960s to a much more youthful vibe. While hardcore fashion fans were delighted by Gaultier’s space-age salute, we here at FU recognize that some of Cardin’s legacy might fly under the radar for many of our younger readers. With that in mind, here’s an ultra-quick primer on a few Cardin basics, so if he comes up in conversation, you can nod and say, “yeah, that guy” with 25 percent more confidence.

1. He Helped Modernize Haute Couture

“The clothing I prefer is the one I create for a life that does not yet exist, the world of tomorrow,” Cardin once said of his space-age fashion. His 1965 “Cosmos” collection, inspired by cosmonauts, was noticeably more practical than other high fashion collections at the time. In addition to short skirts and tunic-like silhouettes that promoted movement, Cardin’s collection was also touted as being unisex—something totally new for the world of haute couture, which was seen as somewhat stuffy at the time.

2. His Accessories Are a Mod Dream

The oversized geometric earrings and wide belts that JPG sent down the runway were a direct nod to Cardin’s iconic accessories, which often consisted of large, simple, geometric shapes, and primary colors. His most popular items by far were his sunglasses, which had a sleek Mod vibe and defined ’60s style.

3. He Got His Start With Schiaparelli and Dior

Everyone has to start somewhere, and for Cardin, it was working for Elsa Schiaparelli and in the atelier of Christian Dior. Considering Sciaparelli’s surrealist aesthetic, one can only assume that it was there that Cardin learned that fashion could be different, new, and experimental. But his tailoring and construction skills—which were integral to his architectural silhouettes—clearly came from working at Dior in the late 1940s.

4. His Design Interests Go Beyond Fashion

Never has a designer been more consistent across design disciplines than Cardin, who applied the same futurist design aesthetic from his fashion work to furniture, lamps, and more. Seriously, if you want to see some trippy, geometric home furnishings that look more like sculptures, investigate his non-fashion work.

5. His “Bubble” House is Hella Famous           

Calling Cardin’s house in the South of France “unique” is an understatement—the sprawling pink mansion is designed in a series of bubble-like shapes. It’s futuristic, retro, and delightfully out of this world. The building has been a favorite among design and architecture fans for decades, but it went mainstream in 2016 when Raf Simons used it as a setting for Dior’s cruise show.

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