Pierre Cardin’s Permanent Paris Museum

4797_Pierre Cardin_MuseumPierre Cardin goes to his studio everyday, continues working with his stylists and leaves a notebook next to his bed to make notes and drawings…. In 2014 the fashion designer told his closest assistant and former apprentice, Renée Taponier, that just in case no one pays homage to his legacy of work after he passes on, he might as well do it himself. He opened a museum on rue Saint Merri. What a collection!

This visit opened a new world for me about someone who I thought just designed men’s suits and the Beatles collarless jackets. Ingenuity and a view to the future with no pang of nostalgia are alive and well at the Museum Pierre Cardin.

Permanent collection on view
If you are a creator, why not have your own museum. And if you have your museum, why not have a curator who has been a life-long assistant and who began as a couturier apprentice. Renée is the curator of the Pierre Cardin museum. Mrs.Taponier knows the detailed, architectural wonders of Mr. Cardin’s creations. She has worked with Mr. Cardin since she was fourteen years old. She tells the anecdotes about the designs, details of the furniture and his creative use of fabrics and materials. The visit includes three floors of over 200 models, including furnishings and accessories ranging from the early 1950s into contemporary times.

John and Renée describing how heat on new fabrics like Fibron leaves a permanent design

John and Renée describing how heat on new fabrics like Fibron leaves a permanent design

With the help of John Delair as interpreter, Renée humorously told us why she has to keep the keys away from a designer who continues to look with a contemporary eye at his own creations. Otherwise, Mr. Cardin, not being a nostalgic person, would take scissors to a dress and reshape it, take away its collar and make it more contemporary. That is why his designs have worked. They were futuristic and can still be fashionable today with a little tweaking.

My recommendation
Visit in a group if you wish to hear the numerous anecdotes. She can tell you about his time with Dior, discovering Jean-Paul Gaultier, designing with cookie and cake forms, crinoline for fluff, the pull handles on the chest of drawers, reversible dresses, stylized cuts instead of printed patterns, his radical act of ready-to-wear in Printemps that had him put out of the high fashion union, his appreciation for wood, love of outer space, the walk on the moon, etc.

Contact Mrs. Renée to find out when a group is visiting and you can tag along. Otherwise, she is available to answer questions and add detail for individual visits, she speaks English.

formal23 bubble dress citeTemporary or Permanent
The collection was originally housed in Saint Ouen. Temporary fashion exhibitions have a limited life in one place at any museum. Not long ago, Renée asked the Musée Galliera in Paris if they would consider mounting an exhibition of the futurist works of Pierre Cardin, André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne. “At least three to five years to put it together,” was the response. Mr. Cardin gave Renée three weeks to mount his collection. The museum opened in November 2014.

Pierre Cardin is a successful couturier (haute and ready to wear), always thinking ahead, a designer (industrial, cars, architectural, furnishings, accessories, etc.), art lover (museum, cinema, festivals, theater), diplomat (United Nations Goodwill Ambassador twice) and the man behind Maxim’s de Paris.

5021_Pierre Cardin_MuseumMuseum Pierre Cardin “Passé-Présent-Futur” (Past, Present and Future)
5 rue Saint-Merri 75004 Paris
Telephone : +33 (0) 1 42 76 00 57
Metro: Hôtel de Ville
Bus 29, 38, 47, 75
Open: Wednesday to Friday 11 am to 6 pm; Saturday and Sunday 1 pm to 6 pm

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Cardin learned appreciation of wood as a noble material from an ebeniste/wood carver when he was a boy