Luxury brand Pierre Cardin plans to return to Paris Fashion Week after the death of its founder

PARIS: Luxury brand Pierre Cardin is set to return to Paris Fashion Week in an attempt to breathe new life into the brand, its new boss told AFP, just over a year after the death of its legendary founder.

The famous fashion designer died in December 2020 at the age of 98, after building a hugely profitable business empire by licensing his name around the world.

He remained in the limelight until the very end, with successful shows in Russia, Kazakhstan and even on the Great Wall of China in the last years of his life.

But Cardin has stayed away from the official fashion calendar for his past two decades – and it’s something his nephew and handpicked successor Rodrigo Basilicati-Cardin wants to reverse.

“Pierre wanted to be free,” Basilicati-Cardin told AFP in an interview ahead of the latest Paris Fashion Week, which begins on Tuesday.

“As he approached his 80th birthday, he said there were a lot of young designers who needed to be part of fashion week and he didn’t want to get in the way of them.”

But Basilicati-Cardin says it’s time to relaunch the brand.

The first stop is a special commemorative show dedicated to the brand’s founder on January 28 at the end of haute couture week.

– Out of this world – “We want to get back to fashion week, at least once a year,” the new CEO said. “We need publicity.

“My uncle did a lot and publicity came naturally. But he spent the last part of his life on creativity, not distribution,” he added.

Cardin helped revolutionize fashion in the 1960s and 1970s with bold, futuristic designs that tapped into the excitement around the space age.

It is not for nothing that the tribute show is staged at the Air and Space Museum in the Paris region.

“We wanted the theme to be outer space to evoke the 1960s, when Pierre Cardin wanted to dress the kind of person who travels on spaceships,” his nephew said.

“He was the first – the only one to have dared to do this alongside André Courrèges – and was criticized by everyone at the time.”

But beginning in the 1970s, Cardin began licensing its brand name to hundreds of other companies and products, from blenders to responders to canned sardines.

It was a hugely profitable decision, and one that Cardin never regretted, telling the New York Times in 2002, “During the war, I would have rather smelled sardines than perfume.”

But for some, these licensing deals also reduced the brand’s appeal, as its name was plastered on cheap clothes all over the world.

– “A certain simplicity” – Basilicati-Cardin, an engineer and graphic designer by training, was chosen to take over by his uncle in 2018, after having worked alongside him since the 1990s, mainly on accessories.

“He really liked a certain simplicity, the love of the curve. He was explaining things to me that I was doing instinctively,” Basilicati-Cardin said.

Today CEO, he still designs eyewear and selects ideas to develop in future collections.

“In one out of 50 designs, I find something new, I jump on it,” he said.

But he recognizes a need to “rejuvenate” the historic label, perhaps with a new group of outside designers.

Never forgetting their legendary founder: plans are in place for another big commemoration in July to mark Cardin’s 100th birthday – this time possibly in Venice.

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