Pierre Cardin plans Paris comeback after founder’s death
The famed couturier died in December 2020 at the age of 98, having built a hugely profitable business empire by licensing his name around the world. He stayed in the spotlight to the very end, with blockbuster shows in Russia, Kazakhstan and even on the Great Wall of China in the last years of his life. But Cardin stayed away from the official fashion calendar in his last two decades and that is something his nephew and hand-picked successor Rodrigo Basilicati-Cardin wants to reverse. “Pierre wanted to be free,” Basilicati-Cardin told AFP in an interview ahead of the latest Paris Fashion Week, which kicked off yesterday.“As he approached his 80th birthday, he said there were lots of young designers who needed to be part of fashion week and he didn’t want to get in their way.” But Basilicati-Cardin says it is time to relaunch the brand.
The first step is a special commemorative show dedicated to the label’s founder on Jan. 28 at the end of the haute couture week.“We want to return to fashion week, at least once a year,” said the new CEO. “We need the publicity. Cardin helped revolutionize fashion in the 1960s and 1970s with bold and futuristic designs that tapped into the excitement around the space age.
But from the 1970s, Cardin began licensing his brand name to hundreds of other companies and products, from food mixers to answering machines to -- famously -- tinned sardines.It was an immensely profitable move, and one that Cardin never regretted, telling the New York Times in 2002: “During the war, I would have rather smelled the scent of sardines than of perfume.”But for some, these licensing deals also reduced the brand’s allure, as its name was plastered across bargain-basement clothing all over the globe.
Basilicati-Cardin, an engineer and graphic designer by training, was chosen to take over by his uncle in 2018, having worked alongside him since the 1990s, primarily on accessories. “He really liked a certain simplicity, the love of the curve. He explained things to me that I was doing instinctively,” Basilicati-Cardin said.
Now CEO, he still designs glasses and picks ideas to be developed in future collections. But he recognizes a need to “rejuvenate” the storied label, perhaps with a new group of designers from outside. Never without forgetting their legendary founder: plans are in place for another major commemoration in July to mark Cardin’s 100th birthday, this time perhaps in Venice.