Pierre Cardin's Relax line of men's sportswear channeled the informal mood of 1970s fashion. Instead of tailored business suits, Relax offered a variety of casual clothing options. In the late 1970s, sporty, casual jackets, wide-collared button-up shirts, and pleated, baggy pants were part of the Relax look. In 1979, Bill Cunningham (yes, the same Bill Cunningham of street-photography fame!) described a model in the Pierre Cardin Relax runway show as looking "like he just fell off a park bench…headed straight for a handout at the local rescue mission."1 According to Cunningham, this intentionally sloppy look was aligned with the general mood of men's fashion:"the neatly-pressed executive suit is not exactly threatened—yet. But the wrinkled realist with the 10 o'clock shadow is definitely coming on strong."2
Though bearing Pierre Cardin's name, Relax was actually designed by Alan Flusser, an American menswear designer. After designing Relax for several years in the 1970s, he launched his own label in 1980. On Flusser's departure, Pierre Cardin Relax apparently ceased operations. Flusser currently operates a custom tailor shop in New York City and has also authored several books on men's fashion and style.
Dating from 1979, this jacket was part of Alan Flusser's last collection for the Relax label. Featuring classic varsity styling, this blue and red jacket probably had a unisex appeal. Though Relax was a menswear line, the bright, not overtly feminine colors, convertible hood, and cozy pockets lent this jacket a gender-neutral appeal.
Made of quilted nylon, Flusser's jacket caught the eye of fashion observers. Quilted garments had previously been reserved primarily for functional sportswear, i.e. ski jackets, and it was a surprise to see this technique on the fashion runway. At a 1979 Los Angeles area menswear show, quilted garments, including sweatshirts, pants and sport jackets, were a noteworthy new trend. Pierre Cardin's Relax jacket earned a special mention and was described as a "quilted nylon water-resistant sport jacket with snap front."3
1 Cunningham, Bill. "Brother, Can You Spare $295?" Los Angeles Times (May 5, 1978), N9.
3 Hawkins, Timothy. "For Men." Los Angeles Times (Apr. 6, 1979), G5.