As 2020 finally came to an end, someone very important died. He was not a politician or statesman. He was not part of academia or the business world. However, his corrupting influence impacted generations. Few have not been exposed to his work.
The man was the fashion designer, Pierre Cardin. He died on 29 December, at the age of 98.
Some might think it strange to give such importance to a fashion designer. His action was limited to the cultural field and not the political events that determine policy and legislation.
An Icon of a Cultural Revolution
However, the sixties initiated an intense cultural revolution that changed society from top to bottom. Culture enters into daily life and serves to modify ideas that later have political consequences. A cultural icon like Mr Cardin can influence more people than politicians. He contributed to the decline of moral standards dramatically.
Thus, Mr Cardin’s death marks the end of a long career of undermining Christian values and morals. His subversive work attacked institutions, customs and conventions, and it worked hand in hand with the Revolution of the sixties. He introduced chaos into fashion, ugliness into designs and immodesty into dress. His logo was imprinted on every type of merchandise. Nothing was sacred or out of his reach.
There are three reasons why the Italian-born naturalised-French fashion designer was so revolutionary and perverse.
Avant-Garde Styles Breaking with Tradition
First, his avant-garde styles broke with all traditions. For over seven decades, he designed clothes that pushed the limits of the acceptable. For example, he introduced his “bubble dress,” a short-skirted, bubble-shaped dress made by bias-cutting over a stiffened base. He would experiment with synthetic materials like vinyl, heat-molded Dynel and Plexiglas.
His “space-age” fashions also reflected a futuristic look with no link to the past, which he detested. Thus, he said: “The clothes I prefer are those I have created for a life that does not yet exist, the world of tomorrow.”
He later designed spacesuits for NASA and influenced the Star Trek uniforms in the television series.
His disdain for tradition is reflected in his “Bubble House” near Cannes. The massive building of geometric shapes contained ten bedrooms decorated by avant-garde artists.
Ugly and Egalitarian Designs Supported by the Establishment
Second, the fashion designer produced egalitarian and ugly clothes and accessories. Fashion should accentuate the qualities of an individual. The transcendental value of beauty should be the object of this art form. However, Mr Cardin’s work disregarded the qualities of the individual and emphasised the products of his bizarre imagination draped indifferently over the body.
Thus, he often ignored the form of the body and often favoured stiff and boxy configurations. “The dress is a vase which the body follows,” he said. “My clothes are like modules in which bodies move.”
He advanced unisex fashion, thus blurred the distinctions between man and woman. He favoured geometric shapes and motifs devoid of meaning and tradition.
To carry out his revolution in fashion, Mr Cardin enjoyed the patronage and support of the highest levels of the Establishment that he sought to destroy. He carefully selected those who could attend his shows yet introduced ready to wear clothing of his design for the masses. He was among the first to display his logo on his clothes.
He later developed licensing agreements with industries, which put his brand name on an enormous number of consumer goods, including cosmetics, pens, baseball caps, kitchen appliances, and even cigarettes. He once said that he would put his name on a roll of toilet paper if given the opportunity. The practice cheapened his brand but filled his pocketbook.
He would be commissioned to design uniforms and other clothes for governments, airlines and other companies. He designed suits without lapels for the Beatles. American Motors Corporation (AMC) contracted him in 1972 to create the interior of its Javelin model, which used daring and outlandish fabrics and wild patterns.
All these practices tended to destroy fashion and contributed to the rise of bizarre shapes and patterns that characterise today’s runways.
Scorn for Christian Morals
Finally, Mr. Cardin’s lifestyle and work reflected scorn for Christian morals. Like all designers of the period, he introduced risqué fashions like the mini-skirt, swimsuits and his “mod chic” creations.
His personal life followed the chaotic immorality of the Sexual Revolution. In the sixties, he maintained an affair with actress Jeanne Moreau. Afterward, he adopted a long homosexual relationship with fellow French fashion designer Andre Oliver, who died in 1993.
In 2001, he bought and partially restored the ruins of the castle of La Coste in France that was once inhabited by the Marquis de Sade. The former owner had such perverse sexual preferences and erotic writings that it gave rise to the term sadism. To this day, French courts ban many of his literary works. Buying this former castle is the equivalent of buying Jeffrey Epstein’s island. Nevertheless, he used the site to hold avant-garde music and dance festivals.
A Product of Postmodernity
Cardin’s life work served to destroy fashion by introducing chaotic, irrational, bizarre and immodest themes to his clothing lines. He is a product of postmodern thought that denies all universal narratives and meaning. It reduces life to the limitless freedom to create one’s own reality. It is a life without God or restraint that ends up enslaving people to their passions.
That is why his work is so destructive and must be taken seriously. His work helped change the way people dress, think and act. If America is polarised and fragmented, it is largely because of the Revolution that he helped promote.
– By John Horvat II