Legendary French fashion designer Pierre Cardin, famed for launching the mod “Space Age” style of the 1960s, has died at age 98.
A pioneer in the type of brand licensing that’s so in vogue today, Cardin’s name was embossed on thousands of products throughout the 1970s and ’80s, including watches and bedsheets, and sold at more than 100,000 stores across the world.
The French Academy of Fine Arts in Paris announced Cardin’s death in a tweet on Tuesday. It did not specify when the designer died or his cause of death.
Born outside of Venice, Italy in 1922, Cardin moved to France as a child and became a tailor’s apprentice at age 14.
He first worked as an assistant in the House of Paquin, and also collaborated with Jean Cocteau, Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior.
The most avant-garde of the 1960s fashion futurists — who included André Courrèges, Paco Rabanne and Rudi Gernreich — Cardin was also the first couturier to design ready-to-wear, the first to use plastics in his clothes and the first to license his name out for every product under the sun, from cars to furniture to silverware.
“Fashion is always ridiculous, seen from before or after — but in the moment, it’s marvelous,” Cardin said in a 1970 interview with French television.
By 2002, the veteran designer told The Post: “Fifty years ago, I thought of things that I wanted to have, and now I have done them. It’s easy to think of something, but it’s sometimes very difficult to really do it.”
He first specialized in “sharp shapes” and graphic patterns starting in the 1950s — and was known for spandex gowns with plastic hoops, bubble dresses and bucket hats that covered the entirety of a model’s head.
His sartorial inventions also included the “Carwash” dress — a micro mini with dangling loops that resemble the flaps at a car wash — and his own heat-molded, synthetic fabric, called Cardine.
Most ’60s haute couturiers whipped up gowns for galas, chic suits for high-powered meetings and tasteful cocktail dresses for ladies’ luncheons.
Cardin, however, made clothes to wear on the moon.
Those otherworldly threads — launched in 1964 with his Cosmos collection — included ribbed body stockings and vinyl minidresses worn with silver thigh-high boots, as well as astronaut-inspired helmets, metallic pendants and Plexiglass vests.
And, yes, he really did intend them for interplanetary living.
“Like much of the culture, Cardin was obsessed with the space race in the 1960s,” Matthew Yokobosky, curator of 2019’s “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion” retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, told The Post. But the exhibit, which included 170 objects spanning seven decades, proved just how far-out Cardin was.
He even designed a spacesuit for NASA.
Pierre Cardin wearing an Apollo 11 space suit, 1969.
Courtesy of Archives Pierre Cardin
Cardin quit showing at Paris Fashion Week in 1996 after he grew bored by the rigid schedule.
“I don’t want to be told when to show my fashion — to be told I have to have a show between the 20th and 30th of certain months,” he told The Post in 2002. “I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t need it.”
At the time, Cardin was quite unapologetic about his unusual business strategy — and admittedly very, very rich.
“I can buy my flowers, make my soup, eat my food, sleep in my bed — I can live in my own personality,” he boasted from his suite in the Pierre Hotel on East 61st Street.
Alas, his brand’s look remained largely unchanged through the years, causing dwindling sales.
But the man behind the label’s impact on fashion was indelible.
“It was incredibly influential,” Yokobosky told The Post. “The whole idea of unisex dressing and showing men’s and women’s clothing together is one of the biggest trends today.”