House of Cardin (G) - 97 minutes
Updated: Jul 23
A visionary, a skilled and creative genius, a futurist, a workaholic and a populist who broke boundaries. Constraint is not in his vocabulary.
That is the man and the image we see of Pierre Cardin, the driven fashion designer and eponymous brand in the slick, fast paced documentary House of Cardin.
Born to middle aged parents in Italy in 1922, Cardin moved to France when he was just two.
Early in the documentary the question who is Pierre Cardin is posed, whereupon several of those interviewed who know and work/ed with the man respond.
He unashamedly likes the shape and form of beautiful things.
He also has a fierce appetite for experimentation.
His start may have been in female fashion, but he quickly spread his wings to the male equivalent, furniture, fragrance, an instantly recognisable logo and ubiquitous signature, restaurants, the arts and so much more.
All of it – along with a few snippets of his personal life (the love of his life was a man, but he also adored a famous actress) – get a working over in this authorised doco chronicling his life and design.
Although the war clearly impacted his early life, once in Paris he got the most unlikely of breaks after listening to a medium.
His talent was instantly recognised by those with whom he worked and that included Christian Dior, who later encouraged him to go out on his own, which he did with huge success, founding his own label in 1950.
The doco includes historic and contemporary interviews with the man himself as well as his models, employees and other famous fashion designers – many of whom are beholden to and were inspired by him.
Those offering their views are Jean-Paul Gautier, Sharon Stone, Alice Cooper, Naomi Campbell, Philippe Starck, Dionne Warwick and Jean Michel-Jarre, just to name a few.
Cardin travelled the world and with his indominable spirit broke down barriers in places like Japan, China and Russia.
At a time when white models were omnipotent, Cardin wasn’t constrained, recognising and admiring the female form in all its hues and with it the ability to reach people of all races.
He transitioned from haute couture to designing clothes for the masses with his ready to wear collections, which rubbed a number up the wrong way.
There is so much to love and admire here.
Cardin had never wanted a biography written about him and had refused all offers for a documentary until husband and husband team of directors P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes met him in 2017.
They have done a mighty job unpacking the life and times of Pierre Cardin, who – although decidedly frail – is still integrally involved in the fashion business at 98.
House of Cardin is a reverential portrait of a man who can rightly be dubbed one of a kind.
Rated G, it scores an 8 out of 10.