French fashion designer Pierre Cardin dead at 98

French fashion designer Pierre Cardin possessed a wildly inventive artistic sensibility tempered by a stiff dose of business sense. He had no problem acknowledging that he earned more from a pair of stockings than from a haute-couture gown with a six-figure price tag.

Cardin, who died Tuesday at age 98, was the ultimate entrepreneurial designer. He understood the importance his exclusive haute couture shows played in stoking consumer desire and became an early pioneer of licensing. His name emblazoned hundreds of products, from accessories to home goods.

“The numbers don’t lie,” Cardin said in a 1970 French television interview. “I earn more from the sale of a necktie than from the sale of a million-franc dress. It’s counterintuitive, but the accounts prove it. In the end, it’s all about the numbers.”

The French Academy of Fine Arts announced Cardin’s death in a tweet. He had been among its illustrious members

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