Paris, December 29
French couturier Pierre Cardin, who made his name by selling designer clothes to the masses, and his fortune by being the first to exploit that name as a brand for selling everything from cars to perfume, died on Tuesday aged 98.
In a career spanning more than 60 years, Cardin drew scorn and admiration from fellow fashion designers for his brash business sense, and influenced catwalks with his space-age, futuristic bubble dresses and geometrical cuts and patterns.
Cardin, who was a mentor to designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, was active in fashion circles until the last, still taking young designers under his wing and regularly visiting his Paris office.
Cardin was the first designer to sell clothes collections in department stores in the late 1950s and the first to enter the licensing business for perfumes, accessories and even food. “It’s all the same to me whether I am doing sleeves for dresses or table legs,” a telling quote on his website once read.
Hard as it may be to imagine decades later, Armani chocolates, Bulgari hotels and Gucci sunglasses are all based on Cardin’s realisation that a fashion brand’s glamour had endless merchandising potential. He once said it would not bother him to have his initials, PC, etched into rolls of toilet paper. His detractors accused him of destroying the value of his brand and the notion of luxury in general. But he seemed largely unaffected by criticism. “I had a sense for marketing my name,” Cardin said in 2007. — Reuters