Modern Man – House of Cardin. Red boucle. Red boucle suit with a small black logo. It was my first designer label piece of clothing: a Pierre Cardin Jacki-O-ish suit. His name was everywhere in the 1980s. And he must have been affordable if I owned that red suit.

House of Cardin is an exhaustive documentary by P David Ebersole and Todd Hughes. In 97 minutes they cram celebrity snippets, historical footage and everything you wanted to know about Cardin. There’s a lot more than I expected.

First, Pierre Cardin is not French. Well, not French born anyway. He was born in Italy and his wealthy (?) parents fled Facism by moving to France, before World War II. After the war, he moved to Paris, worked for Dior and started his own house in 1950. If you don’t think you know any of his designs – think of the iconic “’Beatles” suit…you know the one with the tight pants and no collar? Yep, that’s Cardin. He was one of the first to have a menswear collection. And was the first to have a pret-a-porter collection for women. By the mid-1980s, his iconic symbol adorned everything – pens, jets, furniture, sunglasses. He must have made a fortune. And he’s still alive; 98 and going strong.

House of Cardin might be a wee bit long, but it has to be to cram all that Cardin has accomplished. I mean the doco embraces Alice Cooper and Dionne Warwick – now who would’ve thought those two would appear “together”, ever? Love you both: humming to self “What Do You Get When You Fall in Love”. And “School’s Out” earworm. Nope he didn’t dress Cooper; he staged Cooper. I won’t spoil the anecdote: 1971, Cooper, plate glass, expensive car, ‘nuff said. Cardin is much much more than a designer; he’s a patron of all arts from pop music to avant-garde theatre.

Back to clothes. His women’s garments are timeless. Naomi Campbell wears one of his geometric dresses in her interview; as does one of his Japanese collectors. A fascinating husband and wife team who have the world’s largest collection of Cardin; I think THEY deserve a doco to themselves. Anyway, the dresses look fantastic on both women—two women who are about as different as you can imagine. Who doesn’t love an a-line shift with a bold geometric pattern? It’s a style for any age and any shape. Students of design, dressmakers and anyone who appreciates fashion watch House of Cardin for the clothes.

House of Cardin is the latest in the recent rack of fashion documentaries. Westwood, McQueen, Valentino, Saint Laurent, Dior – all the greats are, let’s be frank, aging and dying. It’s great to hear directly from Cardin about a time when fashion was political and inclusive and fun. Be inspired.

I wonder what ever happened to that boucle suit?

House of Cardin – in cinemas 23 July. 97 minutes.

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