In a career spanning more than three-quarters of a century, he remained a futurist, reproducing fashions for ready-to-wear consumption and affixing his brand to an outpouring of products.

Pierre Cardin with models in 1979. He reproduced fashions for ready-to-wear consumption, dealing a blow to the elitism that had governed the Parisian couture.

Pierre Cardin with models in 1979. He reproduced fashions for ready-to-wear consumption, dealing a blow to the elitism that had governed the Parisian couture.Credit…Keystone/Getty Images

  • Dec. 29, 2020Updated 9:54 a.m. ET

Pierre Cardin, the visionary designer and licensing pioneer who invented the business of fashion as it is conducted today, has died in France. He was 98.

His death was confirmed on Tuesday by the French Academy of Fine Arts. He died at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, just outside Paris, his family said, according to Agence France-Presse.

“Fashion is not enough,” Mr. Cardin once told Eugenia Sheppard, the American newspaper columnist and fashion critic. “I don’t want to be just a designer.”

He never was just that. He clothed the famous — artists, political luminaries, tastemakers and members of the haute bourgeoisie — but he was also a merchant to the masses with an international brand, his name affixed to an outpouring of products, none too exalted or too humble to escape his avid eye.

There were bubble dresses and bath towels, aviator jumpsuits and automobiles, fragrances and ashtrays, even pickle jars. Planting his flag on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, he proceeded to turn the country’s fashion establishment on its head, reproducing fashions for mass, ready-to-wear consumption and dealing a blow to the elitism that had governed the Parisian couture.

In a career of more than three-quarters of a century, Mr. Cardin remained a futurist. “He had this wonderful embrace of technology and was in love with the notion of progress,” said Andrew Bolton, the head curator at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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