Famous for his depictions of modernist icons such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Italian-born Joseph Stella immigrated to New York in 1896. There, he produced Cubo-Futurist compositions of the city that captured the tempo and dynamism of urban life. In later years, however, Stella returned to Italy and focused increasingly on religious themes. In The Virgin (1926) the Virgin Mary appears against a dense array of fruits and flowers — common symbols of fertility — with a view of the Bay of Naples in he background. Reinterpreting Italian Renaissance altarpieces through a brightly saturated palette and bold modeling of form, Stella’s Madonna embodies the early twentieth-century interest in region and spirituality.
Over the course of a seven-decade career in design, Pierre Cardin has released collections that have rocketed so far into the future they were once emblematic of the Space Age. For an example of Cardin’s influence in popular culture, look no further than the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons, where Jane Jetson’s styles look as though they could have been lifted from the designer’s showroom.
Installation View Alongside the Porthole Dress (1968), Made from Wool Crepe and Silver Leather
But perhaps it is the Jetson’s teenage daughter Judy who would have been more inclined to fancy this vibrant and fun two-piece red suit consisting of a Bandeau Top and Miniskirt made of vinyl and plastic. The top’s circular breast rings remind me very fondly of costumes worn by Jane Fonda in the 1968 film Barbarella.
Mannequin Also Wears the Wool Envelope Hat (1979)
This Out-Of-This World Design was Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum as Part of the 2019 – 2020 Exhibit, Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion.
John I. H. Bauer, head of the Brooklyn Museum‘s Department of painting and sculpture from 1936 to 1952, here appears seated in an interior space, perhaps his office. His body, cropped at the head and ankle, fills the frame. Painted in 1974, Alice Neel captured idiosyncrasies such as his slightly rumpled suit, wrinkled face, and veiny hands. One of her guiding principles as a portraitist was, in her words, that “every person is a new universe unique with its own laws.“
Although Angelo Donghia, was the first designer to put his name on furniture in 1973, Pierre Cardin’s venture in the field was far more successful. Cardin opened a custom furniture shop in Paris in 1975, and in 1977, he licensed his name for furniture, lighting and rugs that translated his fashion aesthetic into designs for the mass market., who didn’t design the pieces himself, felt that furnishings were a logical extension of his brand: and deferred to the pieces as his couture furniture.
Installation View from Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion
The red and black lacquer chest of drawers, titled Head of the Moon, was designed in 1978. While it was not designed alongside the looks on view behind it, Cardin’s tight visual language creates a natural link between the two.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion at The Brooklyn Museum.
Technically, a parabola is a symmetrically mirrored U-shape. Pierre Cardin began working with the parabola in the 1950s, particularly in the 1957 Lasso collection. With the introduction of stretch fabrics and hoops in the 1960s, those sweeping, graceful parabolic drapes became amplified, evolving into ellipses and cones.
Some of Cardin’s “Parabolic” fashions collapse flat, are easily packed, and emerge as before — like his earlier Cardine dresses, which could be twisted, rolled and stowed effortlessly into luggage. Developed alongside Cardin’s investigations into furniture sculpture, the big, sculptural shapes of the Parabolic dresses were likewise designed to be seen in 360 degrees. And since they were made of stretch fabric, they had a bounce reminiscent of his “Kinetic” dresses from 1972.
Referencing his earlier “Lasso” or “Eye of the Needle” designs done in wool and mohair, in 1990s’ Parabolic Evening Gown, Cardin creates the shape as a pink and green silk parabola.
Pierre Cardin’s Junior Unit Chest, Installation View (All Photos By Gail)
Pierre Cardin’s interest in geometry has extended throughout his career, beginning in his teens, when he was an apprentice tailor. Over the decades, his work has featured triangular lamps and square shoulders but it is the circle that predominates in his design. We featured a look at the circle motifs in his furniture design in This Post, and another terrific example of what the legendary designer refers to as his ‘couture furniture’ is the Junior Unit Chest of Drawers (1979–80).
Comprised of staggered, lacquered wood drawers which appear suspended inside a circular, chrome-plated metal frame, the Junior Unit is both modern and futuristic at the same time!
Photographed as part of the Exhibit Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion at The Brooklyn Museum.
What a treat it is to experience the Pierre Cardin exhibit Future Fashion, currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum. I admit to being unaware that Cardin also made furniture until I saw a selection of his amazing woodwork staged amongst his retro-space-age fashions. This cabinet, which emulates a sunset above ocean waves, is from 2018.
Cardin’s passion for woodworking began as a child in central France. Later, he created furniture inspired by the skies, landscapes, and forms of nature, using traditional woodworking and lacquer techniques that correspond to the handiwork in haute couture fashion. For this reason, Cardin described his handmade cabinets, tables, dressers, and chairs as “couture furniture” and utilitarian sculptures. Cardin intends his furniture, like sculpture, to be place so that the viewer can see if from all sides and directions.
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion Will be on View at The Brooklyn Museum Through January 5th, 2020.