July 2, 2014
Some years ago I used to work for the designer Pierre Cardin and he made me the “point” man in his affairs in the United States. I was a very young “21” and this was my first really serious job. I met Cardin at the Philippines Embassy in Los Angeles, where they threw a party for him for his redesign of the Barong Tagalog, which is their national costume. President Ferdinand Marcos was a huge fan of Cardin’s work, and he commissioned him to carry out the redesign. I was fortunate enough to be there because at the time I was in a romantic relationship with a girl from the Philippines, and due to her work at the Embassy she invited me as well. Sad to say, the relationship didn’t last, but she did a huge favor for me, by introducing me to Pierre Cardin.
Cardin was amused at the time, because I wore a red shirt with a black suit, and he told me that my look was totally wrong for the reception at the Embassy. He was correct at the time, because when I looked around all the men there were wearing tuxedos. The women on the other hand were wearing his clothes. It appeared that the President and his wife hired him to dress all the women who came to the embassy for this party. It may have been a publicity event than anything else, but as usual, I sort of jump into the fire without checking how hot it was in the first place. I think most people in my position would run out of the building or be embarrassed at the very least -, but I just shrugged my shoulders to him. He found that funny, and he gave me his card to contact him if I care to work for him.
I did call him, and told me he is going to send me a ticket to Nice, France, for a meeting. Once I made it to the airport, his driver picked me up and took me somewhere that wasn’t far from the beautiful beaches of southern France. What I didn’t expect to see was his home. It was very “Cardin.” I have heard and seen his clothes design and knew that he had an obsession with bubble shapes, but I was not prepared to see his home as a series of large bubbles. The home is massive and it was designed (with Cardin of course) by Antti Lovag. Every single room in the estate, including even the many closets) is round. It made me dizzy to walk through one room after another. On the other hand, Cardin is a very nice guy. The job he offered to me was to serve as his assistant in the States. I also made him laugh, because I wore exactly the same clothes that I wore for the party at the Embassy. I said yes to the job, and flew back to Los Angeles the next day.
The oddest thing that happened in my new job as his assistant was being approached by Murry Wilson, who was the manager of The Beach Boys, as well as the father to the Wilson brothers. He wanted Cardin to design matching outfits for the band, which in itself was strange, because at this time, it seemed they were running away from ‘any’ uniformed look - and I couldn’t imagine The Beach Boys wearing Cardin on stage or anywhere else for that matter. Nevertheless I did convey the news to Cardin, and surprise, surprise he was interested in the job. Cardin never met Wilson nor talked to him directly - that was my job. At first, the meetings I had with Wilson were slightly amusing, but it became a horror show as time dragged on. At times, I wasn’t sure if he actually represented the boys (at this point and time they were actually men, I thought they should have changed their name to “The Beach Men.”) Nevertheless Cardin faxed me his drawings of his outfits for the band, and on a regular basis I would go to Murry’s office on Ivar, not far from the iconic Capital records building to show him the latest images from the master. This went on for a whole year, where time-to-time I would be in contact with Wilson, but I could never get a commitment out of him. I finally told Cardin that I think Murry will never commit to any of the designs, and on top of that, I wasn’t sure that he even represented the band anymore. Cardin, I think was just amused by all of this, and I don’t even know if he actually heard a Beach Boys record. His taste in music was more in line with Line Renaud, a French cabaret star, that he was sponsoring for a series of dinner shows at Maxims, which he purchased around the time when I had the series of meetings with The Beach Boys’ dad.
The last time I saw Cardin, was when he invited me (as well as sending me a plane ticket of course) to one of his new homes which is a castle that was once inhabited by the Marquis de Sade. I was there for a week, when he called me in to his office that was once de Sade’s bedroom, to tell me that he had to let me go. I didn’t even ask why, but I was just grateful for being employed and on top of that being associated with Cardin. We shook hands, and I left for the airport the next day. Once in a while I get a card from him. I attempted to get him to send an e-mail, but he can’t or won’t deal with that part of the world. As for Murry Wilson, I did purchase his one and only album “The Many Moods of Murry Wilson, ” which for some reason I found it to be a very depressing listening experience.