Making Coneheads Cool: Pierre Cardin at Brooklyn Museum

I didn’t think a conehead could be chic. You don’t really think of that silhouette as something that a revered and cutting-edge designer might play around with. And yet it graces the head of one of the first mannequins that visitors to Future Fashion: Pierre Cardin will see upon entering the exhibition space. And, in an even more confusing twist, the conehead works. It looks edgy and (dare I say???) stylish. 

But don’t get any ideas. I still do not recommend walking around in a clear, cone-shaped hat to any of you fashionistas trying to trend-set. Only someone like Pierre Cardin, with his signature boundary pushing designs and eye for geometric shapes, could make a conehead work.


Cardin has made many other strange silhouettes into fashion statements over his decades-long career as a designer, and the current exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum does an excellent job of showcasing his wide-ranging talents and varied aesthetic. Cardin creates innovative looks; he wants to make clothing “for a lifestyle that does not yet exist — the world of tomorrow,” as he himself explains. The designer’s fascination with the future is readily apparent throughout the exhibit, drawing inspiration from Star Trek, UFO shapes, illumination and astronaut paraphernalia. Cardin’s creations are as much about material and texture as they are about shape. In the later rooms of the exhibit, the clothing echoes the space age theme in an even more literal fashion, with fabric glistening like stars and some even emitting light. Many of the clothes give off major “Jetsons” vibes, so it is fitting that a clip from the 1960s TV show plays in the final space of the exhibit.

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Example of Cardin’s 1964 “Cosmocorps” collection

Cardin likes to innovate whenever possible, and at ninety-seven years of age, he continues to do so. He was the first designer to introduce “gender released” dressing, and organized the first and only fashion show on the Great Wall of China. Cardin was also one of the first designers to license his name out to other products, and has dabbled in furniture design, industrial design, and film. The exhibit does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of this unconventional man, and does so through a wide range of media and objects, which further the viewer’s understanding of Cardin’s creative process.

Still alive today and coming into the office every morning, Cardin is a living legend who continues to think towards the future and open our minds to the next big thing. Go see for yourself!

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Garments that literally light up