Legendary ‘Space Age’ Designer, Business Titan Dead At 98

(Photo Credits: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Andrew Jose Contributor
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Pierre Cardin, a French-Italian designer and licensing pioneer known for his avant-garde style and Space Age designs, died in France at age 98, the French Academy of Fine Arts announced Tuesday.

A naturalized Italian immigrant in France, Cardin spent his early years working for leading fashion houses such as Christian Dior before kickstarting his distinct brand, France 24 reported(RELATED: ‘Deadliest Catch’ Star Nick McGlashan Dies At 33)

During his brand’s heyday in the 1970s and the ’80s, about 100,000 outlets globally sold items — including perfumes, makeup, porcelain, and chocolates — plastered with his fancy cursive signature, according to the Associated Press (AP).

He is also widely known for democratizing luxury by entering into ready-to-wear fashion and becoming the first designer to get the clothes he designed sold at department stores, Variety reported.

In the 1960s and ’70s, according to France 24, Cardin challenged traditional fashion with his futuristic, avant-garde works, which included bubble dresses and featured geometrical designs

When other French labels obsessed themselves with flattering the feminine form, according to the AP, Cardin’s designs portrayed the wearer as a “glorified hanger,” emphasizing the clothes’ sharp shapes and graphic patterns. 

“[It’s] a day of immense sadness for our entire family; Pierre Cardin is gone. A great designer, he went through a century leaving France and the world a unique artistic heritage in fashion [and more],” Cardin’s family said in a statement, according to Variety.

“We are all proud of his tenacious ambition and the audacity he showed throughout his life. A modern man with multiple skills and an inexhaustible energy, he took part early on in the [globalization of fashion],” they added.

As a business titan, Cardin used the enormous wealth he earned from his empire to rack up state-of-the-art Paris properties, including the Belle Epoque restaurant Maxim’s, according to the AP.

In 1986, he even signed a deal with USSR authorities to open a showroom in the Soviet Union to sell clothes locally made under his name, the AP reported.

In his later life, according to the AP, Cardin dismantled parts of his business empire, selling several of his Chinese licenses to two local companies in 2009.

In 2011 he told the Wall Street Journal that he’d be willing to sell his entire company — comprising then of about 500-600 licenses — for $1.4 billion, according to the AP.