Film & TV

Film Review: House of Cardin

The name Pierre Cardin is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. But who is the man behind the signature?

The name Cardin is one of the most recognized brands in the world. Found not just on the clothing which started it all, but on accessories,household items, perfumes, and even at one stage, a car.

The man behind the logo, Pierre Cardin, has just celebrated his 98th birthday and is still going strong. Very much hands-on with the business, he still looks for new opportunities.

This delightful documentary is directed by husband and husband team P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, and includes historic footage, contemporary clips of The House and Cardin himself at work, and interviews with a bevy of celebrities.

The history of 20th century fashion is writ large through this work, as is the development of the modern concept of the brand. Cardin has constantly sought to leverage his name on products. Yet more than a money-making exercise, it is clear that this expansion is a testament to Cardin’s entrepreneurial verve and considerable intelligence. Here is the first designer to bring out a pret-a-porter collection; the first to break into China when it was still behind the Bamboo Curtain; the first to go to the USSR. He even poured money into a performance space in Paris, so as to indulge his love of theatre.

As a designer, Cardin freed women from restrictive shaping, and introduced a forward-thinking aesthetic to the runway, influencing his proteges such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, who is one of the interviewees. The place of fashion in social and economic development is explored, making this more than a hagiography.

Most interesting are the interviews with Cardin himself. Here is man of admirable confidence, yet still self-deprecating: a man of genius, imagination and boundless energy, even in his nineties.

Ebersole and Hughes have produced an engaging, fascinating and often humorous piece of work.

House of Cardin opens on July 23rd, with special advanced screenings this weekend at PalaceNova Eastend.
Click here for screening times.

Eye-opening 4 stars

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