Review | Stars dive into fashion history in ‘House of Cardin’

House of Cardin | Dir: P. David Ebersole & Todd Hughes | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Millions of people know the iconic label, but few know the man who became the label. This documentary traces the life of Pierre Cardin, the youngest son of Italian- émigré parents who began a career as a tailor in wartime Vichy before working for Paquin and Dior in Paris.

On opening his own fashion house in 1950, he immediately challenged Paris haute couture by creating ready-to-wear clothes and menswear fashion as well as giving his name to many products from perfumes to furniture, sunglasses and aeroplanes. He was even briefly expelled from the governing body of French fashion.

Given unlimited access to his archives and his empire, this homage celebrates the 97 year old’s history of design innovation and global impact. Apart from the futuristic fashion designs, the revolutionary Cardin introduced models of different ethnic backgrounds to the Paris runway.

Naomi Campbell talks about the timelessness of Cardin’s creations, Dionne Warwick speaks about how he helped her career and former assistant Jean-Paul Gautier speaks about how he helped him establish his own career in fashion.

Cardin even reminisces about some of the loves in his life that he has now out-lived. Despite having affairs with many men including his long-time assistant André Oliver who died from AIDS in 1993, he married French actress Jean Moreau.

Venturing into Japan, China and Russia despite the Cold War extended his empire and helped him make a fortune. Cardin’s creations have impact and there are many memorable images including the Chinese model dressed in white walking along the Great Wall of China with an impossibly long red train unfolding behind her.

With his nephew and heir apparent Rodrigo Basilicati hovering in the wings, Cardin is not ready to stop working and is looking forward to reaching his century of life while still working in the fashion house that bears his name.

Lezly Herbert

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