As Pierre Cardin’s leading envoy not just in Newport Saturday but for decades all over the world, Maryse Gaspard personifies the designer’s style. “Cardin clothes give an attitude, a personality, an assurance. I wear Pierre Cardin every day of the year. I come from the school of Cardin,” his muse and head of couture said, “He is very demanding, but it suits me perfectly. With all the responsibility he has bestowed on me, I don’t want to disappoint him.”
Describing him as not only her boss, she said he is also part of her family. Nearing his 95th year, Cardin still doesn’t take vacations, often spends Sundays drawing and cutting on the fifth-floor of his home to prepare for Mondays and starts his day sketching at home at 5 a.m.
WWD: Why is Pierre Cardin so forward thinking?
Maryse Gaspard: It’s just the way he is. He does not live in the past at all. He does something and then it’s, “What’s next?” There is a movement that is always pulling him toward the future. If someone were to ask him to draw something that they saw somewhere, he would say, “No, no — that’s old.” Sometimes he will say, “Even if it’s not beautiful, that’s new.”
WWD: What have been some of the more memorable shows you have done with him?
M.G.: We’ve been around the world many times. There a few that really marked me — on Red Square in Moscow in 1991 with 100 models in front of 100,000 people. It was a very fulfilling and moving moment — nothing like that had been done before. There were ones in front of the Pyramids, in China in the Forbidden City in 1979. I was the first model on the Wall of China. Everyone wore uniforms [at that time] but he brought color. I showed clothes for Mrs. Gandhi. Mexico, Brazil…in Kyoto we had the first fashion show in a temple. First in India, China and last year first at the Academie Francaise.
WWD: Why have you had such an entwined relationship for 51 years?
M.G.: I have always loved avant-garde creation – futuristic, new things. He has always created things that are so spectacular and that corresponds to what I like. I never wanted to leave him because for me he is always the best. And I wear it so well.
WWD: When you met when you were 18 and just starting as a model, did you imagine you would work together for such a long time?
M.G.: No, no, I came from a provincial town. I had a slim body. Mr. Cardin completely transformed me. I had long hair that he cut. He taught me everything. I love him profoundly. I adore him for his talent, his generosity. He always gave an opportunity to young people to express themselves. He is very loyal and truthful to his friendships. The years go and I want to be here until the very end to help him and to help women to feel beautiful.
WWD: What do you find chic today?
M.G.: Elegance is the way you wear clothes. You can be elegant just wearing a sweater and a skirt, but it’s how you wear it. A distinctive woman is a woman who carries herself properly.
WWD: What’s next?
M.G.: I want the spirit of Cardin to continue.