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At 97, Pierre Cardin remains a fashion designer of the future

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — He knew Jean Cocteau, worked with Christian Dior (PA: DIOR ) and gave Jean-Paul Gaultier a chance: at 97, Pierre Cardin, last survivor of the golden age of French couture, remains forward-looking.

The designer with a faltering gait but a formula always ready to spring up on the corner of his lips presented Thursday evening in Paris the collection of one of his protégés, Pierre Courtial, in his studio on rue Saint-Honoré.

“Today is already tomorrow, so you think: yesterday is the day before yesterday,” said the man who made a big splash when he launched the futuristic style in the 1950s, alongside his student.

The work of Pierre Courtial, who makes everything with his hands, from shoes to clothing to jewelry, recalls the work of the master, who revolutionized fashion with bubble dresses, vinyl skirts, cosmonaut-style suits and men’s jackets bristling with epaulets.

“I was trained by Pierre from A to Z”, says the 27 year old young man from Provence who joined Cardin five years ago thanks to an internship. “Mr. Cardin goes to the essential, there is no frills. If the essential is there, well placed, well studied, apprehended, that is enough in short.”

Three generations separate the two men.

One year after the death of Karl Lagerfeld, Pierre Cardin is one of the last witnesses to the great years of haute couture that began in the aftermath of the Second World War with the “New look” revolution of Christian Dior, of which he was the employee. , before the arrival of another assistant named Yves Saint Laurent.

“When Dior opened in the morning at 7:30 am, I was at the door. At the time nobody knew Dior,” says the patriarch of Italian origin, born in 1922. “I had the chance to work with Jean Cocteau , Christian Bérard, Max Ophüls, Christian Dior, Jean Delannoy, all of them big. I had masters who gave me the strength to exist through my originality, my personality. ”

If he only comes a few days a week to his office located above his main shop opposite the Elysée, Pierre Cardin continues to draw.

“In couture, American customers are the most loyal,” says Maryse Gaspard, a former model who has worked with him for half a century.

Attentive to the young generation, Pierre Cardin also keeps an eye on his business, he who made a fortune by his talent but also thanks to the license system on his name that he was one of the very first to launch.

Owner of the Maxim’s restaurant and the castle of the Marquis de Sade in Lacoste, a village in Vaucluse where he also owns around forty houses, Pierre Cardin sometimes still shows up in the evenings, as in January during Jean-Paul’s last haute couture parade Gaultier, who was his pupil at the very beginning.

“Gaultier had personality, provocative, and he did very well,” he recalls.

Having personality: this is the leitmotif of the couturier who is a member of the Academy of Fine Arts, who willingly praises difference.

“From the moment you see an unusual style of dress, you have talent. It’s like a sculptor, like a painter, like an artist,” he says. “I tried to do differently than the others, to be myself. Whether you like it or not, the question is not there. It was to be different, to have a sign of recognition: that’s Cardin “.

The designer had the honor of a retrospective last summer at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and his relatives hope to organize one soon in China, where he was the first Western designer to parade in 1979.

A Cardin museum “Past-Present-Future” settled a few years ago in the Parisian district of the Marais. A documentary, “House of Cardin”, will be released in March. So many tributes during his lifetime to one of the last witnesses of an almost engulfed world.

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