PARIS — Pierre Cardin is returning to the official Paris Fashion Week schedule for the first time in more than a decade, as the heritage brand prepares to unveil its renovated Paris flagship alongside a plaque commemorating its founder.
Cardin’s great-nephew Rodrigo Basilicati-Cardin, who took over the running of the house following the Space Age couturier’s death in 2020 at the age of 98, wants to raise the visibility of the brand as he tours the world to meet with its dozens of licensees and scout young design talents.
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“Our licensees want new collections to be delivered regularly and this reassures them on a precise date. And fundamentally, most fashion journalists are here in Paris, so this gives us better access to them,” he told WWD. “It injects a little enthusiasm.”
Cardin stopped showing on a regular basis in the early 1990s, opting instead for sporadic displays in spectacular settings, such as the Gobi desert or his bubble-shaped Palais Bulles on the French Riviera.
The last time the designer was included in the official Paris schedule was 2010, when he celebrated the 60th anniversary of the label with one of his signature blockbuster shows, which often ran 45 minutes. A tribute show, held a year ago at the National Air and Space Museum on the outskirts of Paris, was a similarly extended affair with no fewer than 180 looks.
For this outing, to be held at the historic store on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, across from the Elysée presidential palace, Basilicati-Cardin promised a more concise lineup with 60 outfits, made mostly using upcycled and deadstock materials, in line with the brand’s pivot toward more eco-conscious design.
A case in point: the show décor will include a mannequin dressed in what it bills as the world’s first “space dress,” made from thermal blankets originally used to protect the Cygnus cargo spacecraft that delivers supplies to the International Space Station. The design was unveiled in Venice last July at a runway show held on the day that Cardin would have turned 100.
Basilicati-Cardin, a civil engineer by training, has designed new furniture for the store in the geometric style that the house is famous for. He confessed that Cardin had made only cosmetic tweaks to the famously drafty boutique since its opening in 1966.
The store will open to the public at the end of March, but he has set about overhauling the entire building, with plans to open a museum on the first floor in late 2023 or early 2024 showcasing Cardin’s designs through seven decades.
“Soon, the whole house will be restored and brought up to standard because it’s been a while. It really needs to be updated with systems that are friendly to the environment,” said Basilicati-Cardin, noting that he plans to install a heating system that takes advantage of the French capital’s teleheating network.
“I will furnish it with Cardin furniture only. I think anyone who comes to the Paris headquarters must feel and breathe Pierre Cardin,” he added.
Some 400 guests are expected at the show, including representatives of 120 licensees from across the globe.
The following day, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will dedicate a plaque marking Cardin’s presence in the neighborhood since his arrival to Paris in 1945. In addition to his headquarters, he went on to acquire several buildings in the area.
“It gives you an idea of the history side of the house and how long we’ve been here, and I think it’s a nice tribute to him to restore it,” Basilicati-Cardin said.
Afterward, the executive will resume his country visits, with stops planned in South Korea, Turkey, China, Brazil, Israel and Cambodia this year, and South Africa in 2024.
“It’s been around 10 years since we took a close look at what our licensees are doing. I really prefer to work with the designers and go on location, and that way, we’re also able to run workshops with students and promote the competition that I launched in October in Mexico City,” he said.
The winner of each leg of the Pierre Cardin Young Designer Contest gains a three-month internship at the Paris headquarters of the brand. Basilicati-Cardin, who works with three other veteran designers, is so impressed with Jero Rosas, the Mexico City laureate, that he’s considering offering him a full-time position.
The plan is to hire three or four additional designers by the end of next year. “Heading to these countries searching for talents, like a pilgrim, is beneficial for them,” he said. “But it’s very nourishing for me too.”
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