Famed designer Pierre Cardin, 95, recalls his ‘dear friend’ Marlene Dietrich

Famed French designer Pierre Cardin still loves his work — and at age 95, he won’t slow down.

While Cardin is known for being a powerhouse in the fashion industry, he is always looking for different avenues to produce his creativity. His most-recent project: a play about legendary film and concert star Marlene Dietrich that recently played Miami Beach.

“I don’t work for the money, I do it for the creativity, to prove to myself what I can do be it fashion, design or theater,” Cardin told the Miami Herald in a telephone interview. “I’m not so young anymore. I want to try everything in my life.”

Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin attends the Dior Croisiere 2016 at Palais Bulle on May 11, 2015 in Theoule sur Mer, France.

Pascal Le Segretain Getty Images for Dior

“Marlene is Back” began in France. Cardin decided to bring it to American audiences and chose the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach as the first stop for a U.S. tour.

Cardin both produced the play and conceived the costumes.

“I am a popular designer so when I produce something with my name on it, it does get a lot of attention,” Cardin said. “This helped me produce Marlene’s memory.”

While Cardin couldn’t attend the Miami Beach performance, he was happy that Americans could see his work, especially since this one was “special” to him, offering an insight on the life of the famous actress who was also a “dear friend.”


Cardin said that when he was younger he wanted to be an actor. By making a name for himself as a fashion designer, he could venture into the theater world.

Living in Paris, Cardin spends the day designing, including all the costumes for “Marlene is Back,” something he had no trouble with because more than a half-century ago, he designed many outfits for Dietrich.

“The fact that the dresses he designed for this show a few months ago is a reflection of the dresses he designed for Marlene 60 years ago, that is prestigious,” French television producer Cyril Viguier said at the Beach premiere Aug. 28. “And it’s a Pierre Cardin production, which is amazing. He is among the last line of iconic designers.”

blue angel

Marlene Dietrich stars as cabaret singer Lola Lola in Josef Von Sternberg’s 1930 film, ‘The Blue Angel,’ the movie that made her an international star.

AP File

Dietrich was among the highest-paid actresses during Hollywood’s Golden Age in the 1930s. Among her films: “The Blue Angel” (1930), “Blonde Venus” (1932), “Destry Rides Again” (1939), “Witness For the Prosecution” (1957), and “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961). She also was a major concert performer from the 1950s through 1970s.

The Berlin-born star was known for her exotic looks, humanitarian efforts and “adventures” with many lovers. The glamorous star disappeared from public view after a cameo appearance in David Bowie’s 1979 film, “Just a Gigolo.” She died inside her Paris apartment in 1992 at age 90.


French actress Cyrielle Clair not just starred as Dietrich in “Marlene is Back,” she also wrote the play.

“Cardin gave me complete freedom over the play. It was daunting, to do justice to this iconic woman but the trust from him was reassuring,” Clair said. “He is a very easy person to work with. He tells you all these personal interactions, stories and conversations they had and then gives you the freedom to work. This is a man who loves art.”

Rodrigo Basilicata, Cardin’s 46 year-old-nephew, said he doesn’t expect seeing the fashion icon slow down any time soon.

“He loves art, he loves all forms of it and he will continue doing so,” Basilicata said. “This time it was a play, next time it will be clothes, the next will probably be something else. Art never stops, and my uncle wants to ensure that art will never go away.”