Pierre Cardin

The Story

In 1991, when this unauthorized biography, Pierre Cardin: The Man Who Became A Label, was first published, the aging Pierre Cardin was still considered a phenomenon, a unique figure in both the fashion and business worlds. The son of impoverished Italian parents who emigrated to France, he began his tailoring career in wartime Vichy and his fashion career by sewing for Paquin and Dior. In 1949 he opened his own couture house, and before long he was being hailed as a one of the brilliant young men who would inherit the mantle of Balenciaga and Chanel and Schiaparelli.

But as the wealthy clientele for high fashion dwindled, Cardin used the value of his reputation as a designer to move into new areas: ready-to-wear, menswear, fashion boutiques in department stores and, most importantly, the licensing of his name to other manufacturers. Cardin did not invent the designer label, but he exploited that idea to an unprecedented degree, putting his name on thousands of products, from shirts and ties to frying pans and aeroplanes.

In this biography of a highly unusual business genius, Richard Morais describes Cardin’s astonishing flair for publicity, his relationships with his employees and associates, his love affair with Jeanne Moreau, his unique management style, his far-sighted forays into countries like the Soviet Union and Communist China where no businessman had gone before, and his controversial acquisition of Maxim’s, whose future as a licensing venture is still uncertain.

Pierre Cardin is the story of a multi-billion dollar success based on one man’s erratic genius and unique personality. But it is also the story of the 20th century, as lived by one of the most talented and controversial figures of fashion.


A Forbes cover story was eventually followed by Pierre Cardin: The Man Who Became A Label, an unauthorized biography commissioned and published by the U.K.’s Bantam Books. Here is what Britain’s critics had to say about the work:

“Richard Morais has an easy, witty style which carries one with panache through the life of a fairly unattractive man. It’s a journalistic style which matches his subject perfectly, but his power of description – the rue de Rivoli in early morning, London’s Teddy Boys in the Fifties – suggests a more sensitive talent searching for fulfillment…. There is extraordinary, often startling information throughout this book, but the pleasure is in the writing. I hope he is working on his second book.” –  Moira Shearer, The Sunday Telegraph

“Morais’ style makes for compulsive reading.” – Sir Ralph Halpern, Sunday Express

“Cardin is undoubtedly one of the world’s most successful businessmen, and how he got there is a fascinating story which Morais tells colorfully and well. It is no hagiography; neither is it a hatchet job. He has caught the essence of the man.”  – Lucia van de Post, Financial Times

“The author’s analytical business mind unraveling of the complexities of this secret empire is the strength of this book, which, in the world of vainglorious fashion biographies stuffed with glossy pictures, is thorough, excellently researched, racy and entertaining.” – Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune

“I praise a very efficient piece of journalism…. an astute journalist who has not been seduced by Cardin’s charm…. This excellent book is heady stuff to the aspirant dress designer.” – Sir Hardy Amies, The Daily Telegraph

‘Cardin, an extreme eccentric, has no business organization and operates on total confusion…. The book is full of hilarious tales of mismanagement, and the very weirdness of his life: a homosexual famous for his affair with Jeanne Moreau, a man who talks of himself in the third person, who lives alone with his 90-year-old sister, dresses like a tramp, and can hardly shave, a world of millionaire megalomania worthy of Howard Hughes.” – Adrian Danmatt, The Times

“A controversial new biography.” – Jonathan Cooper, The European

“Morais has a readable, if scurrilous line in gossip: we learn that Jean Cocteau liked to masturbate behind a two-way mirror in a local public sauna and that the fashion designer Balenciaga used a clean linen handkerchief to clean his dog’s bottom during walks.” – Lisa Armstrong, The Independent

“’It was instantaneous. I knew his reputation as a homosexual. I didn’t give a damn,’ Jeanne Moreau said. Paris was amazed and Cardin’s boyfriend André was furious. He threatened suicide and had to be bought off, says Richard Morais, in a well-researched, unauthorized biography…” – Peter Grosvenor, Daily Express

“Packed with wicked gossip, scurrilous anecdotes and mountains of contextual information. …Morais dissects several myths that most of the press are happy to swallow.” – Men’s Wear


Want to buy Pierre Cardin: The Man Who Became a Label?

The book is out of print now but can be purchased at these Amazon.com Websites:

USA – Click Here

CANADA – Click Here

UK – Click Here

FRANCE – Click Here

JAPAN – Click Here

Should Pierre Cardin: The Man Who Became a Label be reissued? If you think it should, please send Morais an email or leave a note saying as much on his blog.

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