PARIS — French fashion designer Pierre Cardin possessed a wildly inventive artistic sensibility tempered by a stiff dose of business sense. He had no problem acknowledging that he earned more from a pair of stockings than from a haute-couture gown with a six-figure price tag.
Cardin, who died Tuesday at age 98, was the ultimate entrepreneurial designer. He understood the importance his exclusive haute couture shows played in stoking consumer desire and became an early pioneer of licensing. His name emblazoned hundreds of products, from accessories to home goods.
The French Academy of Fine Arts announced Cardin's death in a tweet. He had been among its illustrious members since 1992.
Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, who made his debut in Cardin’s maison, paid tribute to his mentor on Twitter: “Thank you Mister Cardin to have opened for me the doors of fashion and made my dream possible.”
Along with fellow Frenchman Andre Courreges and Spain’s Paco Rabanne, two other Paris-based designers known for their avant-garde Space Age styles, Cardin revolutionized fashion starting in the early 1950s.
At a time when other Paris labels were obsessed with flattering the female form, Cardin’s designs cast the wearer as a sort of glorified hanger, there to showcase the sharp shapes and graphic patterns of the clothes. Created for neither pragmatists nor wallflowers, his designs were all about making a big entrance — sometimes very literally.
Photos: Remembering Pierre Cardin, 1922-2020
In memoriam: Those we've lost in 2020
A look back at celebrities, leaders and other notable people who died this year: