Pierre Cardin dead at 98; French designer was a pioneer in 20th century fashion

December 29, 2020

by Daphne Sorenson

Pierre Cardin (Photo courtesy of Utopia)

Pierre Cardin, a pioneering French fashion designer of the 20th century, died on December 29, 2020, at the age of 98. According to Associated Press: “The French Academy of Fine Arts announced Cardin’s death in a tweet. He had been among its illustrious members since 1992. The academy did not give a cause of death or say where the designer died.”

Born on July 7, 1922 as Pietro Costante Cardin in San Biagio di Callalta, Italy (near Venice), he moved to France with his family when he was a child. While living in France, he began going by the first name Pierre.

At the age of 14, he began is fashion career as a clothier apprentice. He moved to Paris in 1945 and worked for fashion house of Paquin, as well as for designer Elsa Schiaparelli. In 1947, he became head of Christian Dior’s tailleure atelier. And by 1950, Cardin began his own fashion house.

Cardin was best known pioneering “mod” fashion of the late 1960s and the 1970s. One of his best known creations was to combine the concepts of miniskirts and maxiskirts by having short dresses or skirts with cascading designs. He was also one of the first fashion designers to license his brands worldwide for not just clothes and accessories but also fragrances, luggage and other household items. At the time of his death, Cardin’s company (which remained privately owned) still held hundreds of licenses, although he had sold off many licenses over the years.

In his personal life, Cardin never married or had children. He reportedly had affairs mostly with men and sometimes with women. His most high-profile relationship was a four-year romance in the 1960s with French actress Jeanne Moreau.

Cardin was the subject of the documentary “House of Cardin” (directed by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes), which made the rounds at several film festivals in 2019 and was released in several countries (including the U.S.) in 2020. It is unknown at this point who will inherit Cardin’s vast fortune and how this inheritance will affect the leadership of his company.