Still Shocking, 60 Years Later
Natty coats with growths of giant, PVC hairs. Super-mini dresses tiered like wedding cakes, with large hoops sewn in. Matching boy-girl Mylar-looking jumpsuits. Rectangular evening gowns as wide as the catwalk. Pierre Cardin, returning to the New York City runway on Friday night for the first time in more than a decade, proved to his audience at Milk Studios that he’s not making dowager clothes. If anything, Cardin—who celebrates his sixth decade in the fashion business this year—seemed to be angling for the title of World’s Oldest Renegade Designer. Of course, Cardin has long been celebrated for his futuristic designs. “The clothes I like best are the ones I invent for a life that doesn’t yet exist,” Cardin once said, although back in 1954, when he debuted his famous “bubble dress,” he probably assumed that by 2010 we’d be living in a world of jetpacks and hovercrafts, wherein his space-age fashions would look right at home. Not so: This vast Spring ’11 collection was bracingly, hearteningly weird, revolving around looks occasionally cartoonish, and often couturishly elegant, down the Milk runway. Why, Cardin was asked after the show, did he decide to return to New York now? “I was here,” he said with one of those epic Gallic shrugs. Earlier in the week, he’d flown to New York to receive the Board of Directors’ Legend Award at the Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars Gala.