Directors Todd Hughes and P. David Ebersole (Mansfield 66/67) go back in time and take a closer in depth look at visionary fashion and design icon Pierre Cardin‘s work and personal life in ‘House of Cardin‘.

Millions know the iconic logo, but few know the man behind the larger than life label. In this exhilarating and flashy documentary, Hughes and Ebersole design an impressive portrait of the larger than life man himself, by introducing his many talents, incredibly fascinating innovations and his way of changing people’s perception on fashion throughout several decades. This rare look into the mind of the genius Cardin takes you on a fascinating journey, while featuring many interviews with famous names including Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone, Dionne Warwick, Alice Cooper, Jean-Paul Gaultier, etc., who one by one celebrate this true original fashion genius.

Featuring rare footage, House of Cardin recounts his first steps as an employee at Paquin in Paris in 1945, where he worked on the exquisite costumes of Jean Cocteau’s classic Beauty and the Beast, to becoming the head of Christian Dior’s atelier and then founding his own label in 1950. Combining acute business acumen with an almost unrivaled creative vision, Cardin was a fashion revolutionary whose designs from the 1960s and 70s still appear modern decades later.  In what was perceived as a shocking move at the time, he was also the very first designer to branch out from haute couture into ready-to-wear, and expand his range to incorporate fashion accessories – all accepted as standard practice today.

Even those who aren’t familiar with Pierre Cardin, the man and the brand, get a crash course that’s not only enthralling but makes you grow an unprecedented respect for his influence on fashion as we know. As the documentary shows through archival footage, the global fashion brands of today, such as Louis Vuitton, Dior or Saint Laurent, owe Cardin as a person and a brand to pave the way for them. In 1959 he was even thrown out of the French federation for haute couture when he decided to make designer dresses on a budget for the mass market.

Unlike all the other designers, Cardin, who is now 97, never sold his company to a multinational. Instead, he kept investing and discovering new ways to spend his money and make a new for himself elsewhere, just like he did with his fashion empire. He now owns a theatre and bought famous restaurant Maxim’s in Paris, after once being turned away for not wearing proper attire. That restaurant is now a worldwide chain.

It’s his personal story that almost impresses more than his professional one. His demanding and perfectionist personality made him succeed at everything he worked hard for, but under that hard shell lies a gentle soul. He is the kind of man who fought hard for equal rights, visibility and representation in fashion, making sure he inspired millions of people along the way with the power he had in this very exclusive world. The one thing ‘House of Cardin’ brushes over is his love life that involved his marriage with Jeanne Moreau, and later suggesting at a romantic relationship with Andre Oliver.

The music throughout is upbeat, keeping House of Cardin a fun informative watch with fast editing, that tells the story of Pierre Cardin in chronological order, even hinting at the future ideas he has in store. At the age of 97, the man himself doesn’t seem to plan on stopping anytime soon, surrounded by family members who support him and praise his work on a daily basis.

House of Cardin is one of the most inspiring fashion documentaries, making it essential viewing for anybody who loves fashion.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

House of Cardin, in select Australian cinemas 23 July

Review – ‘House of Cardin’

Reviewed online (screener provided by Umbrella Entertainment), July 18, 2020. Rating: G. Running time: 97 min.

PRODUCTION: An Umbrella Entertainment release of a The Ebersole Hughes Company production. Producers: Cori Coppola, P. David Ebersole, Todd Hughes. Executive producers: Matthew Gonder, Margret Raven.

CREW: Directors: P. David Ebersole, Todd Hughes. Camera: Laurent King. Editors: Brad Comfort, Mel Mel Sukekawa Mooring. Music: James Peter Moffatt.

WITH: Pierre Cardin, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Philippe Starck, Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone, Guo Pei, Jean-Michel Jarre, Alice Cooper, Dionne Warwick, Jenny Shimizu.

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