Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Biggest Parisienne Summer Trends

Summer isn't just about sundresses and bikinis (not all about them, at least). We tapped the top buyers from your favorite stores; Nordstrom, Net-A-Porter, and ModaOperandi, to weigh in on the hottest trends of the season. They talked about serious Venice vibes, a new way to wear your pearls, and a pant style we haven't seen in over a decade. Read on for their industry insight on the styles you should be paying attention to, ahead.

California Cool


We've waxed poetic about our obsession with tie dye, but the summer trend is leaning further into its West Coast roots. "We are loving a California cool vibe for the warmer months, including upbeat and casual trends such as Hawaiian shirts, bucket hats, racer back tank tops, and anything tie-dye," said Elizabeth von der Goltz, the global buying director of Net-A-Porter. She enjoyed the psychedelic moments seen on Chloe, R13, and Prada's runway, but don't sleep on beachside stalls and Etsy shops for an affordable option. Polish off the look with denim cut-offs and old-school sneakers like Vans to really capture the SoCal aesthetic. Stephanie Schafer, the senior fashion director of Nordstrom', is also dye-ing over the trend, but suggested a grown-up way to dip your toes in the look: "The beautiful print technique feels fresh in sophisticated silhouettes such as dresses and skirts." In other words, you don't have to go full-hippie to participate.

Souvenir Jewelry


She sells sea shells, and we're buying it all up in the form of jewelry and hair accessories. According to von der Goltz, the shell trend "seemed to be everywhere last summer, [but] has grown to include pearls and beads this season." It ties in to the aforementioned 'California Cool' trend, but with a wanderlust spin. Affectionately dubbed "souvenir jewelry" by her team, the trend also "includes anything with shells, pearls, coins, or stones. It’s an elevated take on the jewelry finds one would snag at a fabulous local shop on holiday" Schafer also chimed in, stating that “shell jewelry has transformed from beach basic to elevated elegance. Shell studs, charms, and pendants are the coveted accessory this summer.”

You don't have to invest your paycheck to partake in this, either. "A great way to buy into some of these summer trends is through hair accessories," von der Goltz suggested. "We’re seeing this category grow with each season and include everything from hairclips to headbands to headscarves." Her favorite accessory brands are Valet and Eliou, which contrast precious stones with color and whimsy. 

Summer It-Bags


When it comes to summer bags, our minds immediately think of straw totes. All the buyers we asked still approve of this seaside trend and don't see it waning anytime soon. Lisa Aiken, the fashion director of ModaOperandi, dissected why we love them. "They elicit a vacation mindset, even while using them in the city," she stated. "As a versatile summer staple, it is polished but not stuffy and can really tie together a look." But the style isn't limited to raffia, but all beachy keen textiles. “Craftwork is becoming a year-round trend in bags," says Schafer. "Straw, crochet, wovens and craft details are [all] trending."

If you're searching for a leather it-bag, Aiken is a big fan of Bottega Veneta's new pouch clutch. "Oversized or mini, it is the perfect piece to take you from day into night and become an essential in your handbag wardrobe. I’ve been wearing mine on repeat," she said. 

Modern Tea Dresses


This summer, trade in your fit and flare sundresses for a retro-inspired style. “The long and languid dress is the silhouette of summer," said Schafer. "Draping, wrapping, ties and knots achieve a soft, sophisticated look, while high-shine silks and satins create daytime opulence." Aiken calls these styles the modern tea dress, "​riffing off a shape from the forties." These styles show off a little ankle, but still retain a hint of flirtation. This sleeper trend is "super flattering and a great length [...] It is in line with a trend we are seeing— pieces with a vintage feel being reworked to [look] new." Find dresses that are midi-length and flow away from the body, like a dropped waist. Prints and colors are up to you, with styles ranging from saturated hues to antique florals.

Shield Sunglasses


Say goodbye to skinny sunnies. According to Schafer, big is back with an athletic twist this season. “Oversized shield sunglasses are trending this summer," she says, referring to sunglasses that look similar to what your dad wears while playing squash. "Think ‘90s sport with a futuristic take and the bigger, the better.” If you're feeling adventurous, go full dad mode in colorful Oakleys, or tone it down with geometric black shades.

Utility


"A utilitarian theme and dose of practicality is welcome for summer," said Aiken. These lightweight layers are ideal for hot days that need coverage from the dangerous rays. She suggests "linens, khaki, as well as the cargo pant and Bermuda shorts, [which] exemplify this trend." You heard it hear first: cargo pants are back. If separates aren't your thing, von der Goltz said "the boiler suit plays into this theme and is the ultimate one-step dressing option. It is so efficient, comfortable, cool and stylish."

Square Toe


According to both Scafer and Aiken, it's time to square up with square-toed shoes. "The clean, geometric shapes make the shoe style modern," said Aiken. "They beautifully toughen up a feminine dress." She touted Wandler's recently launched shoe brand as her new favorite. For Schafer, “minimal sandals are a must. Look for slender straps balanced with a block heel, or square toes for the newest take.”

The Row’s Summer Workwear Capsule Just Went To The Top Of Our Wish Lists

The Row requires little fanfare, but its latest capsule collection of summer workwear has real “proceed to purchase” credentials. Net-a-Porter called upon Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to create a “summer in the city” edit that would have a point of difference to everything else on the market and the luxury brand’s own offering. The result – a series of fresh, cornflower-blue separates – ticks off both objectives.

“We wanted to address the working woman’s needs during the summer season, when temperatures are high, but you still need to look pulled together for work,” Elizabeth von der Goltz, Net-a-Porter global buying director, tells Vogue. “The Row rarely partners on exclusive capsules and collaborations, so it feels really special that we were able to create such a beautiful collection that’s solely available to our customers.”

Special indeed – it’s rare that the Olsens stray from neutrals for their luxurious ready-to-wear. The six-piece edit, including a sky-coloured version of The Row’s crepe de chine silk Sante dress and Sibel knit, were selected for their popularity on the website already.


Of course, the Net-a-Porter shopper needs little convincing. In fact, von der Goltz’s team increased its buy of The Row by almost 40 per cent for 2019. “The customers predominantly love the design, from the minimal aesthetic to the clean-cut pieces and high-quality fabrics,” she explains of its enduring appeal. “Not forgetting the beautifully skilled tailoring and craftsmanship behind each piece, which creates an incredible fit.”

It’s love at first wear for those who fill their virtual baskets with The Row pieces to try. “The high quality and design-led pieces speak for themselves and are exactly what our customers want as part of their wardrobe, regardless of the price tags,” von de Goltz continues. “The Row can be worn again and again, because the garments surpass seasonal trends and will last a lifetime.” Shop the “summer in the city” line, which is priced from £625 to £2,880, at Net-a-porter.com.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Will Opening Runway Shows To The Public Be A Game Changer For Fashion Week?

Agreat fashion show is truly unforgettable. Months of preparation and anticipation culminate in a crescendo of theatricality and glamour that lasts just a few minutes but sets the tone for the new season and ignites the fashion mechanics of desire, imagery and aspiration. Fashion shows can elicit tears of joy (as seen at Valentino’s most recent couture spectacle) or ignite a wider cultural conversation about sex, gender and politics (Alexander McQueen’s shows always hit a cultural nerve). But for decades these shows have been reserved for industry professionals and VIPs, fiercely guarded by clipboard-wielding publicists and a phalanx of security guards. Until now, that is.

Last week the British Fashion Council announced that tickets for a selection of shows at London Fashion Week will go on sale to the public, with prices starting at £135 and going up to £245 for front row tickets. It’s the first of the “Big Four” fashion weeks to make the move. The participating designers are yet to be confirmed, but the tickets also include access to installations, panel discussions and the DiscoveryLAB, “an experiential space where fashion meets art, technology and music”. The news comes as brands are becoming ever more public-facing – whether it’s offering in-store experiences with designers, bespoke personalisation or speaking directly to customers via social media – and fashion exhibitions at museums are breaking records.

Fashion shows, however, still remain the most visceral experience of the medium. Over time, the purpose of them has evolved from vehicles for stores to place orders and press to orchestrate publicity to monolithic marketing spectacles, designed to communicate brand identity and showcase famous ambassadors. Celebrities now sit alongside influential editors, department store merchants, corporate sponsors, influencers and tech tycoons. The sets vary from nondescript white rooms and derelict factories to the far more extravagant: private beaches in Malibu, exotic palaces or the gilded Louis XV salons of Paris.


One thing is certain: despite them being live-streamed into the digital stratosphere and Instagrammed by every member of the audience, nothing quite compares to being there in person. Hence why there’s such a piqued interest in attending.

How have fashion shows evolved over the last decade?

In the last decade, fashion has morphed into an entertainment industry and as a result fashion shows are more akin to music concerts or sporting events than ever before. In 2016, Kanye West staged a fashion-meets-music Yeezy show at Madison Square Garden in New York, with over 20,000 people in the audience and 12,000 models. Tickets went on sale to the public and alongside his third Yeezy collection, West also debuted his new album.

In June 2018, West’s protégée Virgil Abloh invited thousands of art students to his debut Louis Vuitton menswear show. Prior to that, in 2016, he posted the invitation to his Off-White show on his Instagram account: “The address and time are here for all the kids to come,” he wrote. Except many of them were denied entry due to capacity limitations. Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall also opened up his show to the public, allowing them to register on the label’s website for tickets in the hope of welcoming young people who are usually shut out of the industry.

In May, a new fashion and art festival, Reference Berlin, held in an abandoned car park in the German capital, opened to the public. It brought together fashion names such as Martine Rose, Comme des Garçons, Alyx and Michel Gaubert with the likes of curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and Big Love Records founder Haruka Hirata. Some 2,300 people attended after applying for admission-free accreditation. “It was a great opportunity to decontextualise what [fashion brands] do, and for them to come up with something that has a different space – to talk about a vision and experiment,” says Mumi Haiti, the founding CEO of Reference, who encouraged designers to collaborate with artists on installations, panel discussions, video projects and live experiences. “Everyone who dared to participate, the feedback was amazing,” adds Tim Neugebauer, the festival’s head of communications. “Taking away the privilege contributed to creative content because it had to be more creative to make people come back.”

What are the benefits of public-facing fashion shows?

It raises the question of what the benefits are of opening the floodgates. In Shanghai, emerging talent incubator Labelhood has staged two shows – one for consumers and one for industry insiders – since its inception in 2016. “To buy the clothes is not the priority,” says founder Tasha Liu, who describes the shows as for KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), as well as COLs (Customer Opinion Leaders). “The first priority is to create a community, the cool kids come and they love the fashion and they share their experience.” Labelhood uses the public-facing show, which is reserved for big spenders and non-industry influencers, to create a demand for its emerging designers, who often can’t compete with the monumental marketing budgets of bigger brands.

“Right now, there is a gap between the brand and the consumer,” adds Liu. “The original function of fashion shows was for placing orders, but now they are big marketing events. So you need to face the consumer. People want to be the first to see those products and the design, not just waiting for it for six months.”

In many cases, that kind of inclusivity doesn’t come cheap. The high ticket prices to London Fashion Week emphasise an exclusive rather than inclusive experience, appealing to those who want to be – and can afford to be – surrounded by industry insiders and celebrities. After all, if the shows were open to the public, there would be less demand (and less profit to be made) from the outsiders aspiring to be on the other side of the velvet rope. As long as exclusivity is a prerequisite to luxury (in some sense, it always will be due to the cost of the products), fashion will remain fortified in order to maintain that aura of magic and mystery, and so elicit aspiration and desire.

How has haute couture remained exclusive while inviting clients to shows?

That said, customers at shows is nothing new. In the world of haute couture, customers (or clients, as they’re referred to) are always invited to the shows and treated to lavish events in Paris. After all, they are the ones spending vast sums on the clothes and jewellery. Cruise shows, held in far-flung locations by the world’s biggest brands, are arguably the hottest ticket. Brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior and Chanel will often bring top clients, celebrities and VIP editors to exotic locales on branded private jets. These shows are more than just a fashion week highlight — they offer the chance for guests to experience a location through the eyes of the brand itself, from cherry-picked hotels and Instagrammable activities to a star-studded show and after-party in a picturesque setting.

The invitation comes at a price — of loyalty and a colossal amount of spending. In fact, many luxury brands have shifted the focus from VIPs to EIPs (Extremely Important People) with the 0.001 per cent taking precedent. No longer will a personal shopper and a glass of champagne in a spacious fitting room cut it. Jewellery house Boucheron offers its EIPs invite-only stays at its private apartment on Place Vendôme, which is serviced by a 24/7 butler from The Ritz next door. Net-a-Porter offers EIPs backstage access at fashion shows, and meet-and-greets with designers and their buyers. This summer, MatchesFashion is taking customers aboard a 1930s yacht as it sails the azure waters of Ischia.

“By making shows more open, the brands have an opportunity to connect with clients – and vice versa – creating a community of appreciation around the collections,” says Ian Grice, Harrods’s head of elite and personal shopping. At the couture shows earlier this month, the Knightsbridge department store arranged for its top customers to attend the shows of its top-selling fashion houses. It also has an invite-only Instagram account for its EIPs, which features the most expensive products and experiences to a core of its customers (again: exclusive inclusivity). The appeal of attending shows, Grice points out, is that they only happen once, making it the ultimate luxury experience akin to a movie premiere or a World Cup final. “The move to more clients at shows makes sense for all. It allows designers to create community around their brand and share an experience, and turns what was previously a one-way relationship into a partnership of sorts, igniting greater loyalty.”

Why is the inclusive vs exclusive balance key?

Inclusivity may be the buzzword on the fashion industry’s lips, but it also presents a paradox if it is reserved for those who seek exclusivity and are able to afford it. As more eyes are on fashion and the public becomes increasingly engaged with the industry’s marquee fashion weeks, the challenge is how to be two things at once: open enough to feel inclusive, closed enough to remain exclusive.

H&M Teams Up with Angel Chen on First China Designer Capsule

H&M is bringing its fashion designer collaboration initiatives to China, and designer Angel Chen has created a 45-piece capsule with the retailer’s design team. The collection is due to hit stores in September.

This marks the first time H&M has worked with a Chinese design talent in pursuit of generating buzz among the local fashion community, as well as tapping into the young, fashion-minded, affluent and well-traveled Chinese speaking consumer since the collection will not only be available in China both online and in stores but also in countries with dense Chinese populations, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Canada.

Magnus Olsson, country manager of H&M Greater China, said, “The fashion industry is undergoing a transformation, and consumers are constantly changing. We always aspire to create fashion that offers our local customers something new, delivering a good balance between fashion basics, current fashion and the very latest trends. Therefore, we are experimenting with various ways in different markets around the world to bring outstanding design and products to local consumers.

“Angel Chen is a pioneer Chinese designer brand with its colorful approach to fashion coupled with the brand’s core concept of fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics,” Olsson said, adding that she “is one of the brightest young talents in China and we are very excited for this collaboration. We hope to arouse more public attention to the Chinese young designers’ creativity and influence within the Chinese as well as international fashion industries.”

The capsule is a summary of Chen’s greatest hits, as her designs are often worn by local artists and celebrities. She is also considered a celebrity designer in China. The brand has more than 60 stockists worldwide, including Lane Crawford, Luisa via Roma and Selfridges, and is planning to open its first store.


The Central Saint Martins-trained designer said the H&M collection is based on the spirit of Chinese martial arts, commonly known as Fung Fu. Elements such as a pine tree, bamboo, dragon and crane that have a strong association with Chinese culture decorate the colorful and easy-to-wear parka, hoodie and T-shirts, retailing from 59 renminbi to 1,490 renminbi, or $8.58 to $216.57.

“When I was designing the capsule, my priority was to reflect Chinese culture and my brand identity in a meaningful way, sell through became secondary,” Chen said. “I chose some iconic looks from my archive, and gave it an update in colorway, material and details. For example, we used 100 percent recycled nylon mesh fabric to construct my bodysuit, and that came out of a discussion I had with H&M on how to integrate sustainability into my brand.”

China is the fourth-largest market for H&M with 460 stores in Mainland China, as of June. The local market’s preferences have played a key role in making any business decisions since the retailer entered the Chinese market in 2007.

Olsson said “we have been curating a Chinese New Year collection specially designed for Greater China market for six consecutive years to showcase our commitment to the Greater China and also Asian markets. We have also launched Asia-inspired collections since 2016 and Asia exclusive lingerie since 2018 to cater to the local market.” He also added that H&M will launch & Other Stories on Alibaba’s Tmall in China this coming fall.

These Chairs Were Designed Using Recycled Clothing From Maison Margiela, Off-White, Raf Simons, and More

Upcycling has become a popular term of art in the fashion industry over the last year or so. Innovative designers like Marine Serre and Marni’s Francesco Risso, who make their garments using vintage scarves, deadstock fabric, or thrift store finds, have become darlings in the field. They, along with several more of their peers, are changing the way the industry sees its approach towards sustainability in the luxury sector, as well as taking the idea of repurposed fashion to the mainstream. Now, in honor of Earth Day, two more fashion entities are moving the needle further, this time with furniture. 

E-tailer LN-CC and designer DRx, otherwise known as Darren Romanelli, have come together to create a series of chairs upholstered entirely with garments from Martine Rose, Alyx, Vetements, Maison Margiela, Off-White, and Raf Simons. The collection includes a sofa and two chairs, each designed with patchwork and made in modern, spherical shapes. The three items mark an ongoing sustainability project between the store and DRx called RxCycle, with more specially designed, upcycled furniture to be produced and sold directly on the LN-CC site.


“For nearly 20 years now, my core approach to design has been to focus on upcycling vintage pieces in order to breathe new life into discarded or overlooked materials,” Romanelli explains of his work. “When LN-CC contacted me about this project, I immediately recognized the synergy between their initiatives and my passion for reinvention.” LN-CC selected the designer pieces, handed them to Romanelli, and let him craft the chairs freely. As Reece Crisp, head of buying and creative at LN-CC says: “Having begun discussions in August of last year, the timing couldn’t have been better. With Fall 2018 in full flow, the idea was to make a selection of our favorite pieces from a select number of brands and rework those goods into furniture, as opposed to putting them on sale.” 

Crisp is excited to continue building RxCycle and to propose new creative initiatives that will limit the amount of clothing the site puts on sale or ultimately has to throw away. (On average, in Europe and the United States, a family can throw away up to 30 kilograms of clothing each year.) For Romanelli, it’s a new way of challenging and pushing vision forward as a designer. “The true importance of working with deadstock and repurposing material is that it functions as an important first step towards sustainability,” he says. “The added benefit is that it inspires us to create something new and exciting from these materials that would be discarded. That’s the fun part.”

Guys in Skirts Is Only the Start—The Menswear Revolution Is Just Beginning

It’s fair to say the beginning of the 2010s was not menswear’s golden age: Drop-crotch pants were a thing, and the big conversation in the business was tragic. Its chief subject was the financial downturn of 2008 and 2009, which not only sparked a general malaise across the luxury industry but also created a category-specific problem for menswear specialists. All those subprime layoffs had wiped out the spending power of a considerable constituency of consumers and sparked the first wave of this decade’s ongoing agonizing about the future of the suit.

On the runways, though, we were seeing other much more scintillating flashes of wearable rhetoric—some of which would prefigure this about-to-pass decade’s transformation of menswear. The menswear season of Spring 2010 (which went unreviewed by Style.com!) was another era; we still had Alexander McQueen, Stefano Pilati was at YSL, Gianfranco Ferré showed, Kris Van Assche was doing loose (huh?) monochromatic suiting at Dior Homme, John Galliano was at John Galliano in his full creative pomp, Kim Jones was showing suits at Dunhill, and Frida Giannini’s Gucci was as lavishly conventional as Michele’s is now lavishly the opposite. And while there were certain fixed points that still remain—Giorgio Armani, Veronique Nichanian at Hermes, Yohji Yamamoto, Dolce & Gabbana, Paul Smith, Versace—the house whose progress between the show season of S10 and S20 that most encapsulates the alterations menswear as a whole has gone through is Louis Vuitton.

Vuitton’s first collection of the decade, designed by Paul Helbers under Marc Jacobs, was themed around New York bicycle couriers and used that conceit to slip in sportswear references—fanny packs, shorts over leggings (which Tisci was also pushing at Givenchy), lanyards—all preposterously worn with formal (albeit fluoro-heeled) shoes. That footwear deficit was met by the audience, which starred the Black Eyed Peas members wearing Kanye West’s now holy grail designed for LV sneakers. Fast forward to this season just passed at LV, and the sportswear-led cultural transition from the formal to the casual in luxury menswear (notably driven by Kim Jones during his time at LV) that Helbers’s show prefigured now seems complete in the hands of Virgil Abloh.

That is the wider arc of the decade—its broadest brush stroke—but there have been plenty of finer details too. There was the steady runway-led assimilation of elements formerly exclusively feminine into menswear, like the jewelry at Lanvin’s Spring 2010 collection (“when women wear pants, men can wear jewelry” Lucas Ossendrijver observed post-show), or Westwood’s and Givenchy’s recurring skirts, or the male lingerie at Donatella Versace’s Fall 2013 collection—all of which anticipated the rise of an end-of-decade rush of fully gender agnostic houses such as Gypsy Sport, Palomo Spain, and Art School.


The flip side of that feminization, meanwhile, was the emergence of clothes at Rick Owens and Craig Green that seemed purposefully and playfully burdened by symbolic representations of the traditionally masculine. The suit is the most conventional expression of the masculine in dress, and after an early-decade last gasp flourish of dandyism—driven by Pitti Uomo’s peacocks and Mr Porter’s first few years of pocket-square garnished obsession with all things gentlemanly—the familiar two-piecer now appears as on-the-wane as the busted flush of patriarchy-enabling conventional masculinity. For several years in Milan you might see hundreds of suits a day at the shows—at Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, Canali, often Etro, and more—but all of these houses have since pivoted to offer clothes for a much broader spectrum of humankind.

That shift reflects the wider diversification of apex menswear during the 2010s, which in turn reflects the wider diversification of the notion of manliness between 2010 and 2020. In short (or shorts) the landscape of masculine paradigms has shifted for the better: bad bankers, #MeToo, and Donald Trump have all combined to suck any credibility—and certainly all authenticity—out of Wolf of Wall Street–flavored Alpha Male tropes. They also provided a negative backdrop against which a new, generally liberal, and much more inclusive flavor of masculinity has permeated the sphere of menswear.

The season just passed—the first of a new decade—was packed with collections whose designers aimed to subvert and flip male archetypes. From Dries Van Noten to Prada to Pigalle, they worked to signal the male wearer as an object of desire instead of telegraphing the desires he is subject to. Menswear has become a much freer space over the course of the 2010s—a non-judgmental (call-out culture aside) meeting point and melting pot of cultures, aesthetics, and sexual orientations.

Because of that, much of the most innovative and compellingly experimental work in all of fashion is happening in menswear, and the size of the menswear market is increasing much more rapidly than that of womenswear. Which leads to the question: Have the 2010s set up the 2020s to be that golden age of menswear? It feels like, just maybe, they have.

Pierre Cardin’s ‘Future Fashion’ Exhibition To Open At The Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum’s Pierre Cardin retrospective explores the peaks and pinnacles of his 70-year career, but what the multimedia exhibition underscores time and again is the designer’s forward thinking.

With his 97th birthday behind him, Cardin will not be at Wednesday night’s opening party for “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion,” as hoped. But the designer has been intrinsically involved with the planning of the exhibition, which features 19 sections — each with a well-measured mix of fashion, snapshots, videos, accessories, furniture and industrial design — set against Pop Art-ish and photographic backdrops. The show runs through Jan. 5 with leadership support provided by Chargeurs Philanthropies.

By today’s standards, “Twenty-First Century Unisex,” “Kinetic,” “Licensing,” “Democratization and Pluralization,” “New Material and The Visible Invisible,” and “A Future for Cinema” may seem like been-there-done-that. But what distinguishes Cardin from many of his contemporaries is how he raced to be the first, as indicated by the Eve Arnold-shot photo of the fashion show that Cardin staged at the Great Wall of China in 1979 — but was only recently revealed. In addition to China, Cardin was the first European designer to show in Russia and India. That sounds about right for a designer who once said, “I do not look backward but forward.”

Like many museums around the globe that are using fashion as the gateway to get patrons in the door, The Brooklyn Museum has upped its numbers thanks to shows dedicated to David Bowie, Frida Kahlo and others. A video clip from its 2014 Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition helped to set the Cardin one in motion. After learning that Gaultier worked for Cardin at one point, the curators started to look at Gaultier’s work through different eyes. That jogged such childhood memories of getting a Pierre Cardin gift set — perfume, soap-on-a-rope and that kind of thing — as well as images of broad-shouldered jackets from the Eighties. The Newport Restoration Foundation’s compact Cardin exhibition in 2017 was followed by one at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, which prompted Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture, to float the idea by the Brooklyn Museum’s Anne Pasternak and David Berliner. “PIERRE CARDIN YES!!!” was their e-mailed response, he said.


The curator’s favorites include the early Seventies Kinetic dresses (like the “Carwash”) that “move in ways we really haven’t seen before in fashion,” and the illuminated clothes, a concept first tested in 1968 by embroidering lights into a dress debuted by Cardin muse Maryse Gaspard. In the last gallery before the gift shop, a handful of light-infused dresses are shown opposite a monitor playing a 1963 episode of “The Jetsons” that references a “Pierre Martian” original.

Saturday’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing appears to be symbiotic, given all the Space Age-inspired fashion and memorabilia. Cardin was so enthralled that he visited NASA in 1969, and “you can see he absorbed the reality of that technology and the same thing happened later when he visited computer labs. The designer’s computer 1980 coat has fins on the back similar to ones he saw on a computer,” said Yokobosky, gesturing toward a colorful futuristic lamp as another iteration of the design.

“The clothes I prefer are the garments I invent for a lifestyle that does not yet exist, the world of tomorrow,” Cardin once said.

Gallery goers can also see color footage of Cardin’s 2008 Gobi Desert fashion show, his 2016 Yellow River Stone Forest fashion show and the 2018 Great Wall fashion show. There is a lot to be learned in the wall text, too, such as how Cardin showed his first men’s collection, the “Cylinder” line, on 250 college students in 1960 or his preference for narrating shows that could stretch beyond the 90-minute mark in the Seventies and Eighties. After one such occasion at the Met in 1980, Andy Warhol described in his diary piling into C.Z. Guest’s station wagon to attend. “It was the longest show in the world…I think he’s kept every dress that he’s ever made. I did like it because he’s kept so many dresses from 1950-1980,” Warhol wrote.


Tack on 40 more years and it’s clear that Yokobosky had an abundance of possibilities for the show. More often than not, epic is overused, but it is spot on in relation to Cardin’s multidimensional career. Over the course of his career, Cardin’s logo was stamped on more than 850 licenses. In 1969, his empire enabled him to acquire the historic Théâtre des Ambassadeurs in Paris, which has since been restored as Espace Cardin. In 1981, he bought famed bistro Maxim’s (where he once had been refused entry years before), the Palais Bulles (the Bubble House) in 1992 and later a castle in Lacoste, France, where he stages an annual music festival.

In addition to watches, clocks, radios, lighting and other categories, Cardin delved into furniture, cars and airplanes. He designed upholstery, taillights, strip detailing and other accents for the 1972 Javelin, and the interiors and exterior of the Atlantic Aviation’s Westwind 1124 (riffing on a 1967 coat design and a 1970 watch for the latter). More striking is one of Cardin’s most recent furniture designs — the Sunset Crescendo; imagine an orange sun resting on a bright blue wave.

Even more intriguing is the night sky-inspired gallery, which features a 28-foot Saturn-like ring around the room that appears to be illuminated for what is supposed to be an asteroid effect. Fifty minutes into Tuesday’s preview, the curator mentioned how he also designs his shows. The intergalactic asteroid effect required 1,400 pixels of multicolored lights that were individually programmed in blue, pink and white, and the walls are adorned with images of star fields from NASA. “He talked about how as a child, he liked to look up at the galaxy and thought, ‘That’s what evening dresses should look like,’” said Yokobosky of Cardin and gesturing toward a mint green-colored silk gown with synthetic lamé and Swarovski crystals that Naomi Campbell once wore to Buckingham Palace last year.

Traces of other VIPs can be seen in a 1967 clip of a Mia Farrow fitting and Cardin’s longtime collaborator and friend Jeanne Moreau’s 1963 trailer for “Bay of Angels.” The Cosmocorps vignette spotlights the collarless suit he designed for his Cylinder collection. Cardin also made one for The Beatles, who wore that look for a long time. “They had their own costume designer so Pierre wore the first one and the other person made the next 50 versions of it,” Yokobosky said. (French composer Jean-Michel Jarre’s music is piped through the galleries for the exhibition.)


A photograph of one of Cardin’s fans, Raquel Welch, in a black bodysuit, blue vinyl mini skirt and Plexiglass visor, graces the cover of the exhibition’s book and the film actress is expected at tonight’s opening. When the show opens to the public Saturday, ticketholders will also find a teaser for the upcoming documentary “House of Cardin,” which is expected to debut at the Venice Film Festival.

There are also such microcosms of American history as the red collared wool suit purchased by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1957 and worn three times before and during her White House years. “We have it documented that she wore it three times. The first time was to a Congressional hearing. Today we’re so obsessed that you only wear something once,” Yokobosky said. Near the encased ensemble, visitors can watch a 1957 video clip of her wearing the suit for a TV tour of her Georgetown townhouse for the show “Home.” That was also the look of choice for the Kennedys’ first official visit in 1961 to Canada, as evidenced by the Life magazine cover of her chatting with a Canadian Mountie.

Images of Hiroko Matsumoto, the model whom Cardin first met during a 1957 trip to Japan where he had been invited to teach 3-D design at Bunka Fukuso Gakuin to a class that included Hanae Mori and Kenzo Takada, are featured in one section. After writing her numerous invitations to come to Paris, she did in 1960 and later convinced to come work for him, is featured in various photos, backdrops and fashion show video clips. She is believed to have been the first Japanese model to walk on European runways. Nearby is a dog-eared, 20-page feature from a 1967 issue of Elle magazine that is Cardin’s personal copy. Other keepsakes include a black-and-white Bill Cunningham photo from the “Battle of Versailles,” the 1973 showdown between American designers and their French counterparts. The image centers on the spaceship Cardin designed for his models to step out of and onto the stage.

Decorative necklaces that doubled as functional halters, lenticular printed dresses reminiscent of holograms and 3-D molded dresses show the designer’s dexterity. With a cadre of models in tow, Cardin brought Space Age-inspired fashion on his trip to NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston in 1969, which featured the happening in its “Roundup” newsletter. Further proof of that outing is an oversize photo of Cardin wearing what he said was Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit, though there was some question that it may have belonged to Buzz Aldrin.


During a walk-through last week, Iman also gave her approval — more specifically for the designer’s recent couture eveningwear, Yokobosky said. Stopping in front of a 1990 Parabolic black velvet gown with pink and blue sequins that uses his signature lasso back on the front of the skirt, Yokobosky, said of Iman, “She came here and said, ‘This my dress.’ It was funny. She would assign a model to each dress. She would say, ‘That’s a Pat Cleveland dress.’”

One of the more consistent looks that is featured throughout the 170-item show is variation of a black bodysuits. While teaching a small group of students before a pre-Olympics fashion show in 1996 in Atlanta, Cardin told them, “’Thirty years ago when I was doing the black bodysuit, all the critics told me that it was ugly. Look at what everybody is wearing today,’” Yokobosky said.

Born in Italy, Cardin — one of 10 children — and his family fled Fascism for France. At 18, he left home and started training as a tailor. In the Forties, Cardin worked at Paquin and then Elsa Schiaparelli for a spell, before becoming Christian Dior’s first hire at his atelier. Venturing out on his own in 1950, Cardin understood construction, partially due to his adeptness at mathematics, geometry and artistry.

“His ability to think through the mathematics of construction is why he is able to absorb what was happening with the technology that he saw at NASA and the computer lab. A lot of people don’t necessarily have the skill set to be innovators,” Yokobosky said. “He’s 97 now. I was surprised how active his mind is. I can’t imagine what it was like in the 1960s and the 1970s. He has so many ideas — one after the other…During World War II, he worked for the Red Cross and he studied accounting. I said to him, ‘I think that came in very good use for you later on.’ And he told me, ‘Oh, it did.’”


Cardin grasped how a profitable licensing business would allow him to experiment with fashion, without being reliant on a bank. “He created a very open and free situation for himself. Then he bought Maxine’s, the Palais Bulles — and all these things,” Yokobosky said. “When we were having a photo taken together in Paris, I went to fix his shirt and tie a little bit. He said, ‘No, no, no. Open your shirt.’ Going home after that, I thought, ‘It’s about freedom. Be free and you’ll be more creative.”

As for making his show photo-friendly, Yokobosky said, “The accessibility of fashion, social media’s kaleidoscopic reach, consumers’ round-the-clock selfies and vanity as a virtue aren’t the only reasons that the art world is embracing fashion. Just as happenings and installation art became immersive, fashion became immersive through these big fashion shows and experiences that translated well into museum exhibitions. When you design the show, it’s not like it was 10 years ago. Every corner has to be an Instagram moment. So you have to think about that. It’s a different way of designing.”

Having forged through the decades without any outside financial investors, Cardin’s succession plan has not yet been revealed. “People internally and externally are thinking about, ‘What’s going to happen?’ I think it’s going to be a surprise. I’m sure that he has made some decisions,” Yokobosky said.