French fashion designer Pierre Cardin was born on July 7, 1922. He was actually born in Italy as “Pietro” to a Venetian family that had been wiped out financially by World War I. They immigrated to France and became citizens. He became friends with Jean Cocteau, for whom he designed costumes and masks for La Belle et la Bête. Cardin also played a major role at Christian Dior.
When he went out on his own, he was the first couture designer to launch a ready-to-wear line and the first to use men on the run-way. Cardin also popularized the use of synthetic fabrics and unisex clothing. His real genius, however, lay in the business and marketing end of fashion. Cardin was the first to realize that if he could slap his name on a product, any product, he could get a cut of the sale, so there are Cardin tiles, ties, towels…, over 800 branded products in all. He also wrote a children’s book, Conte du ver à soie (The story of the silk worm), which won the Saint-Exupéry prize for children’s literature. Last year, Cardin sold his firm for one billion dollars. This nonagenarian is still hard at work, however, having just released a men’s wear collection for Spring 2013 to strong reviews.
A famous Cardin quotation is, “Le talent et le goût ne suffisent pas, seul le style compte” (luh talen ay luh goo nuh soofeez pah, suhl luh steel cohmt), which means, “Talent and taste are not sufficient, only style counts.” Style, plus 800 products carrying your name into every home, that is.