Pierre Cardin: the designer with an eye for form and function

Legendary designer Pierre Cardin has sprinkled his genius across a wide array of items during his seven decades in fashion, but it is 40 years since he turned his hand to glasses – making his new collaboration with Specsavers so remarkable.

Naturally, the range reflects the visionary aesthetic that put Cardin’s name on the fashion map back in the 1950s and upholds his desire to make high fashion accessible to all.

Starting early – the Italy-born designer was just 14 when he embarked on a clothes-making apprenticeship – Cardin created costumes for film director Jean Cocteau and cut his teeth at haute couture houses Schiaparelli and Christian Dior, working on the latter’s game-changing New Look collection in 1947.

It wasn’t long before he set up on his own in Paris, originally specialising in costumes for the stage. A gifted tailor, Cardin struck out with unique silhouettes such as the ‘bubble dress’, which flared from below the waist and was ruched along the hemline, creating a shape that gave it its name.

Cardin’s distinctive design signature made him an instant success. In a year, his workforce tripled to meet demand and he became the go-to couturier for society belles and film stars. Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Mia Farrow were all celebrity champions of his clothes.

But it was in the 1960s that Cardin brought to life the Space Age designs for which he is best known. Garments that looked as if they came from the future appealed to a progressive generation and in terms of style were light years apart from the more traditional couture houses. His creations played a pivotal role in some of the most iconic imagery from that era: models pictured in avant-garde dresses with geometric cut-outs and directional haircuts were almost always topped off with equally radical eyewear.

Highly original and playful, one of his most memorable creations featured a pair of frames embedded in a sun hat, while another asymmetrical design had only one oversized lens. Such dream accessories would cause a stir on Instagram today. Cardin also developed his own fabric, Cardine, with which the graphic elements of his designs could be moulded. He was, quite rightly, referred to as ‘fashion’s scientist’.

But Cardin wasn’t just innovative when it came to fabric and form. He was the ‘king of firsts’: the first couturier to create unisex clothing and to launch a ready-to-wear collection.

Cardin is now in his nineties but his appetite for experimentation has not waned. By partnering with Specsavers, his inimitable genius is brought to a new audience once more. The result is a desirable collection of glasses for men and women which conveys the spirit and irreverence that is synonymous with Cardin’s vision while remaining utterly wearable.Read more at:cocktail dresses australia | long formal dresses

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