All respect to Pierre Cardin’s memory and legacy. I’m no fan of censuring yesterday’s culture for not living up to today’s expectations. But in matters such as gender parity it doesn’t seem unfair to observe dispassionately how an artifact may beacon values discordant with the current moment’s.
The photograph (above) is delicious for its dated, risible ickiness. It contrives a harmonic that resonates with Cardin’s art-driven, if blatant, abstraction from the cash cow audience feeding his coffers. There’s a soupçon of je m’en foutisme in his saying “I think of the dress… The woman doesn’t matter.”
In the staged tableau, saturnine, impassive, gauntly handsome and exquisitely tailored, the Ozymandias of fashion, master of his imperium, with a sneer of command basks in the mimed fervor of swarming corybants who beseech his favor by offering their compliant flesh as rack and billboard for his effulgent creations.
What the lens conveys is a decadent machismo that swaggers through the thread trade while slouching through other industries with unglamorous, deadening efficacy. The image preserved has a Leona Helmsley aura to it, minus the felony.
(c) 2020 JMN