A fashion pioneer is expected in Athens next week to participate in a charity event in aid of AIDS victims. Legendary French designer Pierre Cardin will be the guest of honor at a fund-raising evening set to take place at Zappeion Hall on Thursday, June 23. Under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens’s Cultural Organization and the United Nations, the event’s proceeds will go toward the purchase of an ambulance for the Hellas orphanage in Ivory Coast. Besides a long and highly productive career in fashion, Cardin is well known for his humanitarian efforts in his role as an goodwill ambassador for UNESCO. In Athens, Cardin will present a retrospective of his designs for theater and film, including costumes from «Les Parapluies de Cherbourg,» starring Catherine Deneuve. Before unveiling the collectors’ garments, however, the designer will raise the Six Flags of Tolerance. Created for UNESCO and produced by Pierre Cardin, the flags were designed by the following artists: Austrian Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Senegalese Souleymane Keita, Algerian Rachid Koraichi, Chilean Robert Matta, American Robert Rauschenberg and Vietnamese Dan You. The following morning, on Friday, June 24, Cardin will symbolically plant an olive tree outside the Athens Municipality Cultural Center on Academias Street. The idea for the upcoming event belongs to Ivory Coast Consul in Athens Mero Kesesioglou. A tireless fund raiser and supporter of African causes, Kesesioglou is the president of Greek Action in Africa, a non-governmental organization established in 1980 in order to provide help to those in need. A unique institution currently hosting 200 children, Hellas is the only orphanage in the world that takes care of children whose parents have died of AIDS and who themselves suffer from the disease. Situated in Bondoukoy, a town where one-third of the population are infected with HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, Hellas will be officially inaugurated on July 31. Besides the Hellas project, Greek Action in Africa is currently developing a Farm School, scheduled to open in early 2006. Taking fashion to the street Pierre Cardin is credited with taking fashion into the street, developing a huge brand licensing system, beginning in the 1960s, and creating sales networks in new markets such as those of Japan, China and Russia. Born in Venice in 1922, Cardin arrived in Paris in 1945. Almost immediately, he entered the fashion business, meeting designers such as Paquin and Elsa Schiaparelli, while a year later he started working for Christian Dior. Meanwhile, he collaborated with Jean Cocteau, designing – among other projects – masks and costumes for «La Belle et la Bete» (Beauty and the Beast). The designer is one of the first fashion professionals to venture into accessories and furniture, while establishing the Espace Cardin Gallery in 1970 to showcase the work of aspiring artists. Since 1981, he is also the owner of hot Parisian spot Maxim’s. Cardin was nominated to be a peace ambassador to UNESCO in 1991 and became a member of the Institut de France in 1992. The event’s principal sponsors are Olympic Airlines, the Athens Hilton, Lancia and Avon. For tickets: Ivory Coast Consulate, 13 Lykeiou, Kolonaki (210.-721.6625); Modelab, 11 Kallisperi, Acropolis (210.922.0085).