Pierre Cardin sparks a feud

Opponents say he’s gutting the town of Lacoste’s soul

Lacoste is an idyllic French village, full of Provençal allure, but, villagers say, its charms are under threat—ever since Pierre Cardin came to town. The Italian-born fashion designer has sparked a vitriolic feud that centres on Lacoste’s very identity: opponents say he’s gutting the town’s soul by transforming it into his own backcountry retreat; supporters say he’s bringing in much needed tourist dollars and employment.

The 89-year-old says he’s trying to create a “cultural Saint-Tropez.” Since his first purchase in 2001—the hilltop castle where the Marquis de Sade once hosted orgies—Cardin has sunk over US$30 million into Lacoste, staging festivals, rebuilding statues and buying up 22 properties on the town’s main drag, known derisively as “Cardin’s Champs Élysées.”

Simmering tensions recently bubbled over; protesters on tractors—some wielding pitchforks—angry over a proposed golf course, blockaded the opening of a musical Cardin had commissioned, forcing him to abandon his plans.

“Before he came, I used to have friends,” long-time resident Colette Truphemus recently told the BBC. “Now there’s nothing. No life, no friends. He has killed the village.”


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