House of Cardin
Filmmakers P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes whizz through the life and career of the visionary fashion designer to answer the question: Who is Pierre Cardin? Featuring a whirlwind of interviews with proteges, models, designers and the late creative himself, House of Cardin is a buoyant, encompassing and sycophantic documentary on a twentieth-century icon who built a global brand.
After a dizzying prologue of talking heads (the work features heavily from friends and colleagues such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Naomi Campbell, Maryse Gaspard, Dionne Warwick and others), Ebersole and Hughes chart the rise and life of the avant-garde designer. Italian born but French naturalised pre World War Two, the filmmakers conceive Cardin as an explosion of post-war creative energy onto the mid-twentieth century Parisian haute-couture scene. Admittedly, his creations from the 1960s and 70s, with their otherworldly, futurist aesthetic, are striking even for today. Ebersole and Hughes also sweep across his eccentric zeal into branding, including his (sometimes unsuccessful) ventures into everything from clothing to cars on a transnational scale.
The seamless fusion of archival footage and fresh film successfully capture the endurance of Cardin’s work ethic. The filmmakers emphasise the continuity between the younger, self-assured artist and the quietly tireless nonagenarian, always willing to venture into risky forays with new “markets” – such as post-Communist China and Russia – and nurture new talent. When the director’s and James Peter Moffatt’s eclectic, upbeat score calms down, the movie skirts through Cardin’s relationship difficulties in rare introspective moments on the designer’s private life.
As informative as House of Cardin might be, its excitable, fawning approach does get tiresome. All things considered, the film producer’s response to their question is that the artist is both everything and everywhere apparently: from a fashion democratiser to a cultural imperialist who trots around and above the planet. While the documentary works as an ideal tribute tailored for its famous subject, it leaves the non-initiated overwhelmed with the emphatic insistence of his pioneering status.
House of Cardin is released digitally on demand on 26th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for House of Cardin here: