PARIS — The Pierre Cardin label will stage a runway show at the end of this year, featuring clothing designed by the house ateliers and overseen by chief executive officer Rodrigo Basilicati-Cardin, including looks drawn up by the late designer, who was active until the end of his life.
“To honor the one-year anniversary of his death, the 29th of December, we will, for the first time since his passing, show new models,” said Basilicati-Cardin. He spoke at an intimate press conference with a handful of socially distanced journalists in a dimly lit dining room of Maxim’s, with longtime Cardin collaborator Jean-Pascal Hesse at his side.
Basilicati-Cardin, who worked alongside his late great-uncle Cardin for nearly three decades, stressed that the fashion will be not be a retrospective, but rather new creations, drawn up by the house studio, respecting the Space-Age designer’s style with an eye to a younger audience. Around half of the collection to be shown in December will feature designs drawn up since Cardin’s passing.
“We hope to do things that he would not have recognized as something he had done, it is important to head in the direction of creation — while recognizing Pierre Cardin, the brand,” said Basilicati-Cardin, who was named CEO of the label last October.
The designs will be created by teams built up by the late designer, noted Basilicati-Cardin, who is trained in design and engineering, and worked at Dior, in addition to years he spent with his great uncle. Describing their relationship over the years, Basilicati-Cardin said Cardin, who would observe him making furniture, introduced him to fashion. They spent several years focusing on creative activities before delving into the business side of the group.
Cardin was involved in all decisions of his business until the very end, according to Basilicati-Cardin, who said he stayed in Paris during the coronavirus lockdowns to be close to his uncle, who died on Basilicati-Cardin’s 50th birthday. Toward the end of Cardin’s life, there were many moments of silence, but the designer still managed to communicate his opinions, said Basilicati-Cardin.
“The brand will be recognizable as his, not completely different, as we often see at other houses,” he explained.
“It will be my interpretation,” added Basilicati-Cardin, who specified that he will be more involved in clothing designs than accessories. He is reviewing the house archives — which include some 30,000 pieces of clothing — for inspiration, without copying previous styles.
Pierre Courtial, introduced by Cardin last year as a protégé, will likely seek to design under his own name, with support from the house, said Basilicati-Cardin. The executive plans to reinforce the studio teams by bringing back longtime workers at the studio to help train new generations for a transition period, hiring around 30 people to add to an existing group of around 60 — some who have worked for decades at the house.
The idea is to target a younger audience — people in their thirties and forties — and also to spark inspiration for licensees of the label.
“They are the source of life” for the brand, noted Basilicati-Cardin, who said that the company manages around 300 licenses, with products numbering in the tens of thousands. The coronavirus crisis has hit business, he noted, while declining to provide sales figures, and licensees could use some extra reason for hope.
Basilicati-Cardin said the plan is to hold on to real estate closely linked to the brand, including space near Place Beauvau, and Maxim’s restaurant. The restaurant will be extended along the Rue Royale to incorporate shop space next door, as well as the Minim’s cafe, which will become part of Maxim’s. Pierre Pelegry will continue to manage the famous institution, while Basilicati-Cardin will oversee the works; reopening is tentatively scheduled for September, with both lunch and dinner services. Prices will also be revisited, with an eye to drawing younger crowds.
Other projects include the Lacoste Festival, featuring music, theater and dance, which will be expanded with the addition of a cinema prize, and the opening of a Cardin cultural space in Houdan, on the outskirts of Paris.
The estate, which counts a number of inheritors — Basilicati-Cardin said it was hard to pinpoint the exact number at this stage, suggesting it could be around 20 — is working its way through legal procedures. Inheritors could decide to sell real estate that is not closely linked to the label, to pay for succession taxes, he suggested. Cardin, who built an empire conquering markets like China and Russia and spawning licenses for a wide range of products, was also known for amassing large real estate holdings, including the Castle of the Marquis de Sade, where the Lacoste Festival is held, and the Palais Bulles, with porthole windows overlooking the sea on the Côte d’Azur.
A trove of photographs has been uncovered, including ones taken by Yoshi Takata, a friend of the designer from 1954 until Cardin’s death, noted Hesse, who is working on a new book that will focus on the designer’s earlier years.
“There is an enormous amount of things that have never been seen,” said Hesse.
Cardin, who died at age 98, was buried in a private ceremony at Montmartre cemetery at the start of the year, followed by a mass at the Madeleine church, with French First Lady Brigitte Macron in attendance.