France's Academy of Fine Arts says Pierre Cardin, the French designer whose Space Age style was among the iconic looks of 20th-century fashion, has died at 98. The academy announced his death in a tweet Tuesday, per the AP. His family tells AFP that he died at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, on the outskirts of Paris, reports the New York Times. A licensing maverick, Cardin's name embossed myriad products, from wristwatches, fragrances, and ashtrays to bedsheets and bath towels, making his label among the world's most famous. In the brand's heyday in the 1970s and '80s, his products were sold at some 100,000 outlets worldwide, though that number dwindled dramatically in later decades.
The Times notes Cardin started dressing models in crash helmets in the late '50s, and he soon adorned both his male and female models in spacesuits. In 1969, the year that man landed on the moon, NASA recruited Cardin to create his own interpretation of a spacesuit. A savvy businessman, Cardin used his fabulous wealth to snap up top-notch properties in Paris, including the Belle Epoque restaurant Maxim's. He also set things up so he was constantly receiving a steady stream of royalties, earning him the nickname the "Napoleon of Licensers." Cardin was inducted into the Fine Arts Academy in 1992. "It is a day of great sadness," his family says in a statement, per Vogue. "Pierre Cardin is no more."
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