Brooklyn Museum Explores Pierre Cardin’s Vision of the Future

PROSPECT HEIGHTS – The Brooklyn Museum unveiled a vast collection of Pierre Cardin’s “futuristic designs” on Saturday—the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, L-R: Mask, 1990; “Butterfly” cocktail dress, 1993; Mask, 1988; Dress, 1988 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

“During the 1960s, Cardin, a true trailblazer, took inspiration from social discourse, scientific discovery, and space exploration, which is timely since this exhibition opens this weekend on July 20th, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing,” Brooklyn Museum’s Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture, Matthew Yokobosky, said at a preview of the show last week.

Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion features more than 170 pieces dating from the 1950s to today—including haute couture, ready-to-wear, accessories, furniture, and more—showcasing the legendary French designer’s diverse innovative work and illustrating how his “bold, futuristic aesthetic” has influenced design over the years.

Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, the designer’s famous “Target” minidress, 1966, is seen with the “Cosmocorps” collection, 1966/67 featuring collarless and rolled collars, asymmetrically placed zippers, and bodysuits as foundation garments for women, men, and children to wear under vests, bibs, skirts, and jewelry. (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, L-R: Wedding Gown, 1997 and “Parabolic” Evening Dress, 2012 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, Cabinet, lacquered wood, 2018 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

“The Brooklyn Museum has a history of sharing stories of trailblazing artists and individuals and this is the perfect place to shed light on a man who was such a disruptor in his field and made so many democratizing advances in fashion,” said Yokobosky. “The exhibition…traces seven decades of Pierre Cardin’s career and celebrates Cardin’s vision for the future,” he added. Culled primarily from the designer’s own archive, many of the looks on display “have never been seen outside of France.”

Though he dressed many celebrities including Brigitte Bardot, Truman Capote, Mia Farrow, Jacqueline Kennedy, Jeanne Moreau, and Raquel Welch, with the introduction of his ready-to-wear collection, Cardin brought “high design to a broader public, democratizing fashion,” Yokobosky noted.

Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, L-R: Hat, 2015 and Suit (bib miniskirt and bodysuit), 2015; Sunglasses, 2013 and Cocktail Dress with “Parabolic” hem, 2013; Hat, 2018 and Suit (vest, turtleneck and pants), 2018 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, Kinetic Fashion display (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, “Cosmocorps” collection, 1969/70 featuring children’s clothing (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

Best known for his mod Space Age designs featuring geometric shapes and silhouettes, high hemlines, oversized accessories, and unorthodox materials including vinyl, plastic, plexiglass, LED lights, and his very own “Cardine” synthetic fabric, Cardin’s work highlighted his “fascination with new technologies and the international fervor of the 1960s Space Race…which subsequently became emblematic of the era,” according to the exhibit’s press release.

Along with his playful clothing—women’s, men’s, children’s, and gender-neutral collections—the prolific Cardin also designed furniture, lighting, housewares, and even car interiors. The Renaissance man is even a restauranteur, having purchased the iconic Maxim’s de Paris in 1981. In conjunction with the Future of Fashion exhibition, The Norm, Brooklyn Museum’s full-service restaurant, has been transformed into the Art Nouveau Parisian eatery offering a special menu that pays homage to Maxim’s cuisine.

Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, “Starry Evening” gallery featuring evening wear and gowns (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, L-R: Evening Dress with orbital sleeve, 1994/2000; Suit (vest and pants), 1994 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, “Illumination” gallery (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

Born in San Biagio di Callalta, Italy in 1922, Cardin’s family moved to France in 1924. He trained to be a tailor in his teens and worked for Elsa Schiaparelli, and Christian Dior before launching his own fashion house in 1950. He began working in costume design before transitioning into haute couture. Consistently finding inspiration in “futurism,” technology, and architecture, Cardin introduced his groundbreaking “Cosmocorps” collection in 1964, which featured unisex “futuristic looks” and “hats that resemble astronauts’ helmets.”

The pioneering designer was the first couturier to launch a ready-to-wear (prêt-à-porter) line in 1958, and was one of the first European designers to license his name in the late 1960s, making Pierre Cardin one of the most recognized brands with more than 850 licensed products bearing the name, according to the press release.

Cardin, who celebrated his 97th birthday on July 2, continues to work, walking to his studio every morning. Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion is the first NYC retrospective in 40 years to celebrate the design icon’s seven-decade career.

Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion
On view July 20, 2019 through January 5, 2020
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway
Tickets $20 (advance ticket purchase is recommended)

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Pamela Wong

Pam is a staff reporter at Bklyner, covering North-Western parts of Brooklyn. You can reach her at Pamela@bklyner.com. Tips are always welcome. She also writes about art at arthag.typepad.com.

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