Fashion forward: Pierre Cardin’s futuristic design comes to Brooklyn Museum

Fashion forward: Pierre Cardin’s futuristic design comes to Brooklyn Museum
Photo by Rose Adams

This collection is out of this world!

A new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum celebrates the life and work of a cosmic revolutionary whose fashion designs created the pop culture vision of an avante-garde space age. “Future Fashion,” which opened last week, showcases the 70-year career of French fashion designer Pierre Cardin — a pioneer of haute couture and ready-wear outfits that stand out like rockets lifting off against the sky, according to the exhibit’s curator.

“He’s somebody who doesn’t put a boundary on himself,” said Matthew Yokobosky. “He worked with reflective materials: lights, rhinestones. If someone walks in the room in a Cardin, they light up the room, like a galaxy.”

The show features 170 pieces from the 96-year-old designer’s studio and archive, as well as films, photos, and sketches of his work. Selecting the items from Cardin’s vast collections proved to be a daunting task, said Yokobosky.

“Since Mr. Cardin’s work is so finished — all of it looked perfect when I walked into the room. So it became about what stories I wanted to tell,” he said.

The exhibit traces Cardin’s development as a designer, from his early tailoring to his haute couture gowns to his gender-bending space gear. Each room also showcases his impact on popular culture, screening snippets of “Star Trek” and the 1960s animated show “The Jetsons” that have clear parallels to his look.

Space lace: Cardin’s sparkly, space-age evening wear is displayed in a room made to look like a starry sky.
Photo by Rose Adams

Most impressive is the outer space room at the back of the exhibit. Dresses draped with neon lights flash in the dark, and the walls sparkle with starry gems. The high ceilings and sweeping gowns lend the space an ethereal, royal charm — a charm that dominates most of Cardin’s work.

The exhibit demonstrates how Cardin’s striking style has evolved to keep up with the changing times.

“I really appreciate his sense of experimentation,” said Yokobosky.

In order to implement his innovative designs, Cardin invented his own material called “Cardine,” a synthetic fabric that can be molded into three-dimensional shapes. And the 96-year-old is still designing new looks.

“Pierre Cardin is an inspiration in terms of living and in terms of design,” Yokobosky added.

“Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion” at Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638–5000, www.brooklynmuseum.org]. Open Wed, Fri–Sun, 11 am–6 pm; Thu, 11 am–10 pm. $20 ($12 students and seniors).

Vinyl tap: This 1970 image of actress Raquel Welch, wearing a Pierre Cardin outfit with a mini-skirt and necklace in blue vinyl, complete with a stylish plexiglass visor, is part of the “Future Fashion” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.
Terry O’Neill

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306.