Pierre Cardin, Fetish for the Bubble

26 Jul
Pierre Cardin
One of the most recognizable names in fashion, Pierre Cardin has been designing elegant and avant-garde creations for over half a century. Born as Pietro Cardin in a small town in Italy on 2 July 1922, Cardin made a name for himself in France after moving to Paris post World War II. In 1946, he was commissioned to design the costumes for legendary film director Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast. Cocteau was very impressed with his work and introduced him to designer Christian Dior. At the age of 25, Cardin secured a position as the head of one of Christian Dior’s studios. A few years later in 1953, the House of Cardin was founded and he quickly gained a following of his own.
1946_cocteau_belle-et-bete_cJean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, costumes by Pierre Cardin


Short Biography


Beginning his career early, Cardin, aged 14, worked as a clothier’s apprentice, learning the basics of fashion design and construction. In 1939, he left home to work for a tailor in Vichy, where he began making suits for women. During WWII, he worked for the Red Cross.
Cardin moved to Paris in 1945. There, he studied architecture and worked with the fashion house of Paquin. He worked with Elsa Schiaparelli until he became head of Christian Dior’s tailleure atelier in 1947, but was denied work at Balenciaga.
Cardin founded his own house in 1950. He started out by designing clothing for stage productions, but soon built up a client base. Christian Dior sent Cardin roses as congratulations, and, a much more important gesture of encouragement, directed his overflow clients to Cardin’s new business.
His career was launched when he designed about 30 of the costumes for “the party of the century”, a masquerade ball at Palazzo Labia in Venice on 3 September 1951, hosted by the palazzo’s owner, Carlos de Beistegui. 
Cardin says of his company’s beginning, “I started with 20 people. I was successful immediately.” In 1953, Cardin released his first collection of women’s clothing and became a member of the Chambre Syndicale, a French association of haute couture designers. In 1954, he opened his first boutique for women, called Eve. That same year, his bubble dresses became an international success. The design is still popular today: a loose-fitting dress is tightened near the waistline, broadens and then is brought back in at the hem, creating a “bubble” effect.
Pierre Cardin Bubble DressA Pierre Cardin Bubble Dress

Soon, though, Cardin was looking outside France for inspiration. He visited Japan in 1957, becoming one of the first Western designers to seek out Eastern influences. In Japan, he scoped out business opportunities while studying the country’s fashions for new ideas. The Japanese fashion school Bunka Fukusoi made him an honorary professor, and he taught a one-month class there on three-dimensional cuts. Also in 1957, Cardin opened his first boutique for men in Paris, called Adam.

In 1959, he was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale for launching a ready-to-wear collection for the Printemps department store as the first couturier in Paris, but was soon reinstated.

Circles in Pierre Cardin’s Fashion Designs

Pierre Cardin

1966 Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin

1970 Pierre Cardin

1971 Pierre Cardin

During the 1960s, Cardin began a practise that is now commonplace by creating the system of licenses that he was to apply to fashion. A clothing collection launched around this period surprised all by displaying the designer’s logo on the garments for the first time.


Cardin resigned from the Chambre Syndicale in 1966 and began showing his collections in his own venue, the “Espace Cardin” (opened 1971) in Paris, formerly the “Théâtre des Ambassadeurs”. The Espace Cardin is also used to promote new artistic talents, like theater ensembles, musicians, and others. He was also contacted by Pakistan International Airlines to design uniforms for the flag carrier. The uniforms were introduced in 1966 to 1971 and became an instant hit.

Pierre Cardin for PIAUniforms for Paskistan International Airlines 
In 1971, Cardin redesigned the Barong Tagalog, a national costume of the Philipines by opening the front, removing the cuffs that needed  cufflinks, flaring the sleeves, and minimizing the embroidery. It was also tapered to the body, in contrast with the traditional loose-fitting design; it also had a thicker collar with sharp and pointed cuffs. 
Continuously fascinated by geometric shapes, in 1975, Cardin applied his fetish for the bubble to a monumental domestic work which would become Le Palais Bulles (the Bubble House), along with the help of architect Antti Lovag. Cardin furnished the Bubble House with his original creations. The curves of the Bubble House extend over 1,200 square metres and contain ten bedrooms decorated by contemporary artists, as well as a panoramic living room.

The Bubble House

Cardin was a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture et du Prêt-à-Porter from 1953 to 1993.

Cardin bought Maxim’s restaurants in 1981 and soon opened branches in New York, London, and Beijing (1983). A chain of Maxim’s Hotels are now included in the assets. He has also licensed a wide range of food products under that name..

Like many other designers today, Cardin decided in 1994 to show his collection only to a small circle of selected clients and journalists. After a break of 15 years, he showed a new collection to a group of 150 journalists at his bubble home in Cannes.

1967 Pierre Cardin


1967 Pierre Cardin

1971 Pierre Cardin

1968 Pierre Cardin

1973 Pierre Cardin

1968 Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin





book cover

Pierre Cardin: Fifty Years of Fashion and design

This is the first authorized monograph on Pierre Cardin (b. 1922). Visionary fashion designer and licensing pioneer, Cardin began his career apprenticed to Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior. He quickly launched his own haute couture line, in 1954, followed rapidly by the first women’s and men’s prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) collections from a couture designer. Since the 1960s, Cardin’s cutting-edge, futuristic designs have continually broken new ground and established exciting new trends. And he invented the business of fashion as we know it today, with international brand licensing across a variety of products and media. Pierre Cardin himself made his ambition clear: “I wanted my name to become a brand and not just a label.”

Cardin brought high fashion to the street; he invented the bubble dress and launched the use of cartridge pleating, bright clear colors, as well as vinyl, plastics, metal rings, and oversize buttons. Pierre Cardin has also designed accessories, furniture, and cosmetics. There are now more than 900 licenses in over 140 countries, employing more than 200,000 people under the Pierre Cardin trademark.


Book cover


Pierre Cardin: 60 Years of Innovation

The Cardin fashion house celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010, an occasion that called for a retrospective of the work of its founder, designer Pierre Cardin. Born in 1922 in Sant’Andrea de Barbarana, Venice province, Pierre Cardin immigrated to Paris in 1924 with his parents, who were thrown into poverty by World War I. After working briefly with Elsa Schiaparelli, Cardin joined Dior in 1946 and opened his own couture house in 1950.

He was a pioneer from the start, creating a design-based, architectural fash ion with a futurist sensibility. Cardin also had a pioneer’s understanding of fashion’s relationship to new audiences, presenting his collections to large crowds. He was the first to demonstrate that fashion can be both a creative process and a business – and that one man can excel as both a business man and an artist.

This volume is a tribute to an iconoclastic – and now iconic – designer, entrepreneur, and visionary.


pierre cardin logo


info: http://www.whatgoesaroundnyc.com/blog/12540 & Wikipedia

3 Responses to “Pierre Cardin, Fetish for the Bubble”

  1. fabrickated 26 July 2015 at 18:51 #

    Glorious. Thank you.


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    […] A fitting place for the guy who loved the circle, and designed the Bubble Dress and other avant-garde fashions in his […]

  2. Pierre Cardin – Fashion, Media, Culture - 8 March 2019

    […] in 1950. His early designs included masks and costumes for the theater. In 1954, he opened his first fashion boutique called Eve. During the same year, he created a worldwide famous “bubble dress.” A bubble dress […]

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