great rooms

Visit Pierre Cardin’s South of France ‘Bubble Palace’

A 1970s VIP space odyssey on the Mediterranean.

Pool party at the Bubble Palace. Photo: Toni Anne Barson Archive/WireImage
Pool party at the Bubble Palace. Photo: Toni Anne Barson Archive/WireImage

Pierre Cardin even vacationed in the future, or some vision of the future which, even if it’s now in the past, seems like it’s still out there, waiting for us. “The dresses I prefer,” the designer said in 1969, “are those I invent for a life that does not yet exist.” Cardin, who died at 98 this week, transformed fashion with ready-to-wear and a world of licensing, but was always looking forward. What I would have given to have been one of the guests on October 6, 2008, at the 80th birthday party he threw for himself celebrating his then-50-year career in fashion at his Palais Bulles (Bubble Palace) in Théoule-sur-Mer in the south of France, overlooking the Mediterranean. The surreal domed compound was originally built in the 1970s by Hungarian architect Antti Lovag for a French industrialist, Pierre Bernard, who died in 1991. Cardin was the second owner of this kingdom that included an amphitheater, three swimming pools, and ten bedrooms, each designed by a different artist. But it might as well have sprung from Cardin, the mad scientist himself, as it was such a perfect reflection of his Flash Gordon aesthetic that embraced the brave new world of ’60s space-age travel that Cardin captured for the public imagination. He grew a licensing empire that included everything from sunglasses, cars, restaurants, and home furnishings — letting us all, in various ways, participate, too.

Antti Lovag’s architecture was characterized by organic, sensual shapes that he felt aligned with the way the human body moved.” Photo: Eric Robert/Sygma via Getty Images
Each of the ten bedrooms was decorated by a different artist. Photo: Eric Robert/Sygma via Getty Images
A painting by Jerome Tisserand adorns the rounded ceiling. Photo: Eric Robert/Sygma via Getty Images
Even decades on, it looks like a moon base compared to the neighboring villas. Photo: Nam Hun SUNG/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
The house seems to tumble down the hillside. Photo: Jean-Patrick DEYA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
A guest room. Photo: Alain Benainous/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
The lounge. Photo: Toni Anne Barson Archive/WireImage
Visit Pierre Cardin’s South of France ‘Bubble Palace’