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Pierre Cardin at the Brooklyn Museum

Part of Brooklyn Falls for France

The Brooklyn Museum presents Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion the first New York retrospective in forty years to focus on the legendary couturier. Drawn primarily from Pierre Cardin’s archive, the exhibition traverses the designer’s decades-long career at the forefront of fashion invention. Known today for his bold, futuristic looks of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Cardin extended his design concepts from fashion to furniture, industrial design, and beyond.

From July 20 to January 20, the exhibition presents over 170 objects drawn from his atelier and archive, including historical and contemporary haute couture, prêt-à-porter, trademark accessories, “couture” furniture, lighting, fashion sketches, personal photographs, and excerpts from television, documentaries, and feature films.

Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion is curated and designed by Matthew Yokobosky, Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture, Brooklyn Museum. 

Pierre Cardin (born in 1922 in San Biagio di Callalta, Italy)

Starting early Pierre Cardin created costumes for film director Jean Cocteau and cut his teeth at haute couture houses Schiaparelli and Christian Dior, working on the latter’s game-changing New Look collection in 1947. A gifted tailor, Cardin struck out with unique silhouettes such as the ‘bubble dress’, which flared from below the waist and was ruched along the hemline, creating a shape that gave it its name.

Cardin’s distinctive design signature made him an instant success. He became the go-to couturier for society belles and film stars. Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Mia Farrow were all celebrity champions of his clothes.

But it was in the 1960s that Cardin brought to life the Space Age designs for which he is best known. Garments that looked as if they came from the future appealed to a progressive generation and in terms of style were light years apart from the more traditional couture houses. His creations played a pivotal role in some of the most iconic imagery from that era: models pictured in avant-garde dresses with geometric cut-outs and directional haircuts were almost always topped off with equally radical eyewear.

But Cardin wasn’t just innovative when it came to fabric and form. He was also the first couturier to create unisex clothing and to launch a ready-to-wear collection.