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Pierre Cardin returns to the “Silk Road”

Pierre Cardin Spring / summer 2008 show is presented in Dunhuang

(Dunhuang, October 20th 2007).  Pierre Cardin, the great designer has returned to the Silk Road with the haute couture he so successfully brought to China over 30 years ago from France. The spring / summer 2008 collection was unveiled in the endless dunes of Whistling Sand Mountain in Dunhuang, a show exquisitely prepared by the company’s General Representative in China, Fang Fang and her deputy Zhang Wei. Alluding to Marco Polo’s arrival in China along the Silk Road more than 700 years ago, Pierre Cardin draws us back there to show us that this is the only way for a European traveller to arrive in this faraway eastern land.

The show unfolds without pomp and ceremony.  The models appear from behind a dune, emerging one by one into view like a gracious snake slithering across the dunes, along a 280 metre long “silky trail”.  As the sun settles in the west, the purple sky forms a magnificent backdrop… a mirage rises before the eyes, a desert caravan appearing fleetingly on history’s great path before carrying on its travels.

“Marco Polo” is the inspiration and theme of this collection and as usual the designs are grouped into three series: “Venice”, “Silk Road” and “Xanadu”.  Pierre Cardin and his designer of many years, Sergio Altieri, were in Dunhuang themselves to present the collection of more than 200 designs.  Showing her creative flair, Fang Fang, Pierre Cardin’s General Representative in China, linked the three parts of the show with dances and accessories from different countries and regions. The secret of the show’s success is revealed through this creativity and the artful fusion of ancient and modern.

The dessert and Venice intermingle

Masks are an intrinsic part of Venice. An immaculate white mask stands 3 metres tall on a sand dune; four dancers appear to the Italian opera music from “The Pearl Fishers”.  Their movements follow the music when suddenly a rainbow of colours sprays from their fingers, covering the immaculate mask to such an extent that the mask positively glistens with colours. The models start to appear.

The “Venice” series is dominated by flowing short designs.  The models’ legs soak up the evening sun with the hemlines floating 10 to 20 cm above knee level. The previous seasons contrasting colours have disappeared and have been replaced in this “Venice” series by the purest of colours.  To guarantee the purity of the hues, the dyes were made in Japan and the judicious mix of colours reinforces the ethnic feel of the series. This season’s trend for brightly coloured plastic fabrics appears several times in this series, appliquéd on T shirts, their transparency seductively revealing the skin beneath.

The glow of an orange evening on the Silk Road

Thunder is heard in the distance, a storm is about to break on the Silk Road.  A group of warriors, clad in black and armed with great swords, are unleashed into a frenetic battle dance.  On closer inspection, these are no ordinary swords: their dazzling silver blades are shaped like lightning. And it is from lighting that this series draws inspiration.

Silvers, blacks and sandy colours dominate this “Silk Road” series. The lightning symbol is cleverly repeated on collars, shoulders, sleeves, backs and fronts of T shirts and black masculine shirts, accentuating the men’s invincibility against the women’s grace. The relaxed style of the men’s jackets and the women’s jersey knits are doubtlessly the most pragmatic designs of this series.  In an array of natural colours such as white, beige, khaki and brown, woven in softly delicate fabrics, they float before the eyes.

At dusk, we stumble upon Xanadu

The sun slowly sets in the west; the dunes are bathed in the dark, potent light of the dusk. A long dragon awakes and starts its dance. A traditional Chinese dragon dance presented with a twist as the body of the dragon is a 20 m long tie! The dragon’s last bound announces the beginning of the collection’s last series, entitled “Xanadu”. This last series mainly showcases eveningwear and the wedding gown.  Evening dresses glide by in light, floating taffeta. Snaking along the dunes, these silhouettes appear like immortals floating from above.

As the show builds to its climatic end, a model in a wedding gown emerges slowly, on a camel.  The scene is a reminder of the traditional Chinese weddings when the bride arrived by camel.  What is striking is that all the evening wear is tailored in the traditional Chinese red except for the wedding dress! Pierre Cardin has drawn these designs specifically for the Chinese market. Also eye catching is the jewellery, large bronze locks worn around the neck or draped around the models’ waists.  The accessories, inspired directly from the massive bronze locks found on great doors in Chinese traditional architecture, are striking and reveal the designer’s creativity and originality.