Pierre Cardin: The Man Who Became a Label


An unauthorized biography of one of the most controversial figures in the Parisian fashion world

This unauthorized biography of Pierre Cardin follows the youngest son of impoverished Italian-émigré parents in France, who began his tailoring career in wartime Vichy and then furthered his ambitions by sewing for Paquin and Dior in Paris. In 1949, Cardin opened his own couture house, and before long he was being hailed as a one of the brilliant young men who would inherit the mantle of Balenciaga and Chanel and Schiaparelli.

But as the wealthy clientele for high fashion dwindled, Cardin used the value of his reputation as a designer to move into new areas: ready-to-wear, menswear, fashion boutiques in department stores and, most importantly, the licensing of his name to other manufacturers. Cardin did not invent the designer label, but in the 1970s he exploited that idea to an unprecedented degree, putting his name on thousands of products, from shirts and ties to frying pans and airplanes. He became an improbable success as he ushered in the ‘designer era.’

Pierre Cardin is the story of the 20th century, as lived by one of the most talented and provocative figures of fashion.

“Richard Morais has an easy, witty style which carries one with panache through the life of a fairly unattractive man. It’s a journalistic style which matches his subject perfectly, but his power of description – the rue de Rivoli in early morning, London’s Teddy Boys in the Fifties – suggests a more sensitive talent searching for fulfillment…. There is extraordinary, often startling information throughout this book, but the pleasure is in the writing. I hope he is working on his second book.” –  Moira Shearer, The Sunday Telegraph

“Cardin is undoubtedly one of the world’s most successful businessmen, and how he got there is a fascinating story which Morais tells colorfully and well. It is no hagiography; neither is it a hatchet job. He has caught the essence of the man.”  – Lucia van de Post, Financial Times

“The author’s analytical business mind unraveling of the complexities of this secret empire is the strength of this book, which, in the world of vainglorious fashion biographies stuffed with glossy pictures, is thorough, excellently researched, racy and entertaining.” – Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune

“Cardin, an extreme eccentric, has no business organization and operates on total confusion…. The book is full of hilarious tales of mismanagement, and the very weirdness of his life: a homosexual famous for his affair with Jeanne Moreau, a man who talks of himself in the third person, who lives alone with his 90-year-old sister, dresses like a tramp, and can hardly shave, a world of millionaire megalomania worthy of Howard Hughes.” – Adrian Danmatt, The Times