Pierre Cardin is still the epitome of style at the grand old age of 84 and was at his unruffled best as he opened a retrospective of his work at the Huashan Culture Park.
The Wednesday night bash was an elegant affair, as Taipei's rich and beautiful stepped out in their evening dresses and slipped on their suits to mix with foreign diplomatic guests on the red carpet.
Polite, practically fawning, local designers, models and dignitaries fell over themselves to make Cardin feel at home as he presided over a fashion show put on by 19 of the country's best designers.
This did not deter your reporter, however, from stalking the great French man of fashion and ambushing him with a few questions as he toured Huashan before the show began. He was unfailingly polite and patient.
He said of his fifth visit to Taipei that he enjoyed the city because it was so hospitable, adding it was important to him from a business point of view.
Then came the trick question: “You like Chinese culture then?”
He peered over his designer glasses and answered in slightly accented English, “Of course, Chinese culture has become very important today, but as you know, Taiwanese culture and Chinese culture are not necessarily the same.”
Then Cardin, who is also a UNESCO goodwill ambassador and owner of Maxim's hotels and restaurants, was whisked away by his advisors to attend to his hosting duties.
He left in his wake a flock of modish ladies who excitedly recounted their brief conversations with the silver-haired fashion fox.
Taiwan's international designer Sophie Hong (洪麗芬) was also on hand to put into context his contributions to the world of fashion.
“Pierre Cardin is king. His clothes, his art, his objects, the empire he has built all show that he is number one. His spirit is still strong at over 80 and this is shown by his interest in this event. His constant energy is impressive and his influence is still strong.”
Cardin has been making waves since 1947, when he headed Christian Dior. He helped NASA design its space suits, brought couture to the masses and is partly responsible for the importance of labels to today's consumer.
His geometric approach to fashion, partly inspired by his studies in architecture, is highly innovative and has stood the test of time. Not only did his work break the mold of fashion, it shaped the future.
Evidence of this was on display at his exhibition, Fashion for Tomorrow's World, which featured 40 of his signature designs, ranging from dresses to furniture and sculpture.
The exhibition is scheduled to run until Nov. 12, at Huashan Culture Park, 1 Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei (華山文化園, 台北市八德路一段1號). It is open from 10am to 6pm. For further details call (02) 3343-6376, or go to huashan.cca.gov.tw.