Film Review: House of Cardin

STUDIO: Utopia | DIRECTORS: P. David Ebersole & Todd Hughes
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 15, 2020
SPECS: NR | 95 min. | Documentary

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

Pierre Cardin is a man of many firsts. He created a new genre of fashion, changed cultural norms by using ethnically diverse models, built an international merchandising brand, reinvented eyewear and so on and so on. So it might seem impossible to distill his decades-long career into an informative and entertaining  95-minute documentary, but directors P. David Ebersole & Todd Hughes (Room 237) have done just that with House of Cardin.

The film chronicles the incredible rise and long lasting legacy of the French fashion designer (who is actually Italian) through interviews with notable personalities such as supermodel Naomi Campbell, actress Sharon Stone, singer Dionne Warwick and designer Jean-Paul Gaultier (who Cardin discovered), clip montages highlighting his most notable career moments, along with unique animation that deconstruct several of his stylish fashion designs.

The interviews can get a bit fawning and repetitive but a jaunty score by James Peter Moffatt (That Which Comes to Pass) helps move things along. The documentary does a great job explaining how and why Cardin–who career kicked into gear in France in the mid-1940s–became such an important cultural touchstone, but what prevents it from truly excelling is a lack of real insight into Cardin’s personality and, more importantly, his creative process.

For example, did he slave over a design idea, continuously tweaking minor details until it was perfected or did his sketches come quickly in multiple bursts? Where did he find inspiration and what got his juices flowing? The absence of exploration into his artistic mind is a bit disappointing, especially since the production had unprecedented access to not only his archives, but the man himself, who is still going strong at 98.

House of Cardin is currently available on demand.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at DishDisc.com.