French fashion pioneer Pierre Cardin dies aged 98
Cardin won renown in postwar Europe with his futurist designs that looked like they had arrived from another planet, but he also used his business acumen to create the first truly global fashion empire.
"His inspiration boosted my imagination," he told AFP, adding that for Cardin the marketing and promotion of his art "was as important as the art itself."
From apprentice to global empire
Born in 1922 near Venice in northern Italy, Cardin was a small child when his family emigrated to France.
He grew up in the French industrial town of Saint Etienne and was apprenticed to a tailor in Vichy at the age of 17, already specialising in women's suits.
Moving to Paris, he designed the mesmerising sets and costumes for the film "Beauty and the Beast" with poet, artist and director Jean Cocteau in 1947.
After a stint with Christian Dior, he had already set up his own fashion label in 1950.
He quickly established a name as an innovator, creating the now legendary bubble dress in 1954.
His 1964 "Space Age" collection remains a landmark in fashion history. "My favourite item of clothing is the one I create for a life that does not yet exist -- the world of tomorrow," he once said.
Goal was the street
Cardin's global empire had a strong presence in Japan, and he broke ground in deals with the Soviet Union and China in the late 1970s.
He was also the first designer to hold a fashion show in Red Square in Moscow in 1991, drawing a crowd of 200,000.
Cardin's family praised how he had plunged "early on into the flow of globalisation".
The designer insisted that he wanted his creations to be worn by ordinary people and not just shown off by the glitterati.
"My goal was the street, that my name and my creations are in the street. Celebrities, princesses... that wasn't my cup of tea. I respected them, I dined with them, but I didn't see them in my dresses," he said.
"We are all proud of his tenacious ambition and the daring he has shown throughout his life," his family said.