Pierre Cardin, ahead of his time

“Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion” opened this past weekend – on, fittingly, July 20, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing – at the Brooklyn Museum.

The French couturier born in 1922 has been called, in the museum advance materials, a “pioneer of Space Age fashion and futuristic design.”

WAG had the chance to tour the exhibition in advance of the opening, a July 17 walk-through that proved that statement certainly true – and then some.

Curated by Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of Fashion and Material Culture, Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition is a tour-de-force journey through Cardin’s seven-decade career.

Visitors get a well-rounded look into the life and work of Cardin, with more than 170 objects, dating from 1950 through today, coming together to create quite a picture.

The fifth-floor galleries devoted to this expansive exhibition are filled with breathtaking haute couture and playful ready-to-wear fashions, along with chic – and bold – accessories, all accompanied by photographs, video and other materials drawn primarily from the Pierre Cardin archive.

The exhibition, organized chronologically, surveys key moments in Cardin’s career including signature looks (the 1960s “Cosmocorps” collection and its “target” dress), his work in unisex design and trendsetting menswear and fashions created for film and theater. Hats, bags, jewelry and sunglasses are also in the spotlight.

But that’s not all. The exhibition also encompasses Cardin’s work beyond fashion, offering a look into his furniture, lighting and assorted home décor pieces.

“Pierre Cardin is a name that is known all over the world,” Yokobosky said during press-preview remarks, noting that Cardin was “such a disruptor in his field.”

Indeed, he became known for pushing boundaries in design as well as business, one of the first European designers who would license a name that would eventually grace countless products around the globe.

Walking through the galleries, you’ll be easily captivated by something at nearly every turn, including a sleek black evening ensemble featuring a dress with “Parabolic” shoulders and hat that creates a dramatic and memorable silhouette to a geometric green leather handbag; a case full of shoes in a rainbow of colors; a selection of 1965 Vogue pages that feature Norman Parkinson photographs of models in Pierre Cardin dresses with a backdrop of Gustav Klimt paintings (then on display in London); and an entire dazzling gallery that reflects Cardin’s fascination with the night sky, with several of the fashions perched overhead, complete with evocative lighting and music.

Everyone will, no doubt, find his or her favorite – or favorites, to be sure.

Cardin is now 97 and, as Yokobosky shared, “still continues to design and remain curious about what’s next,” so expect the legacy to continue.

We’ll have a full feature on the exhibition in our September “Fascinating Fashions” issue, so stay tuned. In the meantime, keep in mind that “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion,” which continues through Jan. 5, is a timed, ticketed exhibition, so be sure to make a reservation before your visit. The museum is at 200 Eastern Parkway.

For more, visit brooklynmuseum.org.

– Mary Shustack

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