Pierre Cardin's profound influence on Chinese fashion

Author:Tom 2020-12-31

According to AFP news, the famous French fashion designer Pierre Cardin (1922-2020) passed away.


Pierre Cardin


Whether you recognize Pierre Cardin as a top master in the fashion history, or a brand that can be seen everywhere in Chinese shopping malls for a period of time, you must know that he has an extremely important relationship with the rise of modern Chinese fashion industry.


His classic works in the peak period of the 60s and 80s will not be repeated. Here we highlight his influence on Chinese fashion.


Pierre Cardin


In 1978, a "foreigner" wearing a wide-shoulder woolen coat came to China with a tour group organized by his company. They boarded the Great Wall, walked on the streets of Beijing, walked into the Forbidden City, and looked at this mysterious oriental world.


The Chinese around them wore simple labor clothes made of military green or navy blue fabrics. The color was monotonous and simple. This internationally renowned designer Pierre Cardin, witness a prelude to great changes where China is still completely out of touch with the global fashion.


Pierre Cardin


In December of that year, the Third Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Party was held. China began to implement the policy of domestic reform and opening up. In April 1979, the State Council proposed to accelerate the development of light industry with less investment, quick results, more accumulation, and high exchange rate.


Pierre Cardin's judgment on the Chinese clothing industry and even on China is correct.




Pierre Cardin boarded the Great Wall in 1978


Pierre Cardin’s name are written in the description of the 1960s and 1970s in fashion history, when he is internationally renowned for his space style. In 1970, he visited the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a designer, and even tried on the original spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong, the first person to go to the moon. In 1977, he was awarded the Cartier Golden Thimble Award by the French haute couture industry. But in the mouths of Chinese officials in 1978, he was just a tailor, because everyone did not understand the concept of a fashion designer.


fashion women


Pierre Cardin in the 60s


China is ready to welcome the world, and it needs a tipping point to ignite the Chinese people's desire and imagination for fashion.


Pierre Cardin lit the fire.


In 1979, he accepted the invitation of the Ministry of Commerce and came to Beijing again with 8 French models and 4 Japanese models. They temporarily set up a T-stage at the Beijing National Culture Palace and staged the first fashion show of New China. The brightly colored and slightly bizarre costumes on stage contrasted sharply with the uniform costumes of the audience. Li Anding, a reporter who watched the show, once described: "When the blonde female model lifted up her long skirt, the audience leaned back, as if avoiding a shock wave close at hand."


fashion in China


Maris Gaspard, one of the French models, followed Pierre Cardin on the Great Wall. She wore red, yellow, green and purple clothes and danced on the Great Wall. The surrounding Chinese were watching her, some were curious, and some were covering their mouths and laughing.




Maris Gaspard at the Great Wall


The second year of the show was 1980. Pierre Cardin’s timing was very good when the first fashion publication <Fashion> was launched in New China.


An ambitious "foreigner"


Pierre Cardin didn't intend to treat China as fleeting glimpse. What he wanted was a thorough in-depth development from production to sales, and even to help China communicate with the Western world. He wanted to be the Marco Polo of the fashion industry.


Because he was unable to handle all matters in China in detail, he entrusted a Chinese woman to carry out it. She was Song Huaigui, who later became the head of Maxim's restaurant.


Song Huaijia


Song Huaigui


Song Huaigui was the first Chinese involved in foreign-related marriages since the founding of the People's Republic of China. When she and her foreign boyfriend wanted to obtain a marriage certificate and were blocked, she wrote a letter to Premier Zhou Enlai, whose special approval was passed on as a beautiful story.


She met Pierre Cardin while participating in an art exhibition in Paris with her husband, who is also an artist, and began a collaboration and friendship for decades.


Song Huaijia


Song Huaigui and Alan Delon at Maxim


It was simply a fantasy to form a model team in the early 1980s’s if China. But both Pierre Cardin and Song Huaigui thought it was necessary. First of all, they can use their own models at their own future conference in China. Secondly, if China wants to expand the import and export of clothing, Chinese models must go global.

For the ordinary people who wears Chinese tunic suits, it is not clear what a model is, and may even think that this is a shameful profession.


Song Huaigui tried her best to select 12 people from groups such as vegetable sellers, carpet workers, textile factory workers, and students to be a model team. They need to fight resistance from society and family, and secretly participate in model training.


Song Huaijia


In October 1981, the first Pierre Cardin conference performed by a Chinese model was staged in the Beijing Hotel. After the show, a Hong Kong media published an article titled "Foreigners' Farts", accusing China of not having enough food and clothing, and there is no need for a fashion show.


Among various obstacles, Pierre Cardin still digs into the possibility of Chinese fashion. This model team wore a cheongsam to go to the Paris show in 1985. This is the first time for Paris to see a well-trained professional from China. The Chinese model team, among which Shi Kai became the pride of Chinese models in the 1980s.


Song Huaijia


Shi Kai


In addition to the show, Maxim's restaurant became the second bomb that Pierre Cardin put on the Chinese market. Since its opening in 1983, it had become the most "foreign" place in Beijing and even the country. Ms. Song’s excellent artistic aesthetics and social skills had torn a shining cut in China, which had just sprouted to art and beauty, and the buds were emerging. It took many years for people to understand what this means.


Song Huaijia


The process of Chinese fashion is like reform and opening up. Without going back, Pierre Cardin is at the forefront of our path.


fashion show


Pierre Cardin's show in Beijing in 1993


View more fashion clothing news: