Paco Rabanne, a Spanish-born designer, has passed away in Portsall (Brittany) at the age 88.
A spokesperson for Puig Spanish group, which owns the Paco Rabanne label he left two decades ago, confirmed that Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo – Rabanne’s birth name – had died.
His namesake brand was founded in 1966. While it is most well-known for its aftershaves or perfumes, it was his Space Age designs from the 1960s that first attracted his attention.
The fashion house shared a statement on its official Instagram account, saying: “The House of Paco Rabanne wishes the honor of our visionary designer/founder who died today at the age of88.”
His legacy will be a source of inspiration for many.
“We are grateful for Monsieur Rabanne’s establishment of our avant-garde heritage, and the definition of a future with limitless possibilities.”
In his early years, he was called an “enfant terrible”, and along with fellow French designers Pierre Cardin, Andre Courreges, helped to change the status quo in Paris’ fashion scene.
His extravagant designs often used unusual materials such as metal and paper. His first collection was appropriately titled “Manifesto: 12 unwearable gowns in contemporary materials”.
The collection was presented by barefoot models in a Paris luxury hotel’s catwalk. It included a silver minidress with chain mail inspired chains made of aluminium plates that was worn over a flesh-coloured suit.
According to the V&A museum, Helen Bachofen von Echt, Baroness Helen Bachofen von Echt, wore the dress to New York’s party where she danced alongside Frank Sinatra.
He was open to cutting-edge materials and modern methods of working and used plyers instead of a needle and thread when creating the craft outfits. They were made of strips of plastic connected with metal rings.
This collection, which looked simultaneously futuristic and medieval, has inspired many contemporary designers.
He is best known for creating the green costume Jane Fonda wore in 1968’s science-fiction film Barbarella. Many celebrities, including Taylor Swift, Blackpink, and Beyonce, have worn his clothes.
Jose Manuel Albesa, president of Puig’s beauty and fashion division, said that 1966’s show was a landmark. What else could make fashionable Parisian women clamour for plastic and metal dresses?
Rabanne joined forces with the Spanish Puig family to launch his perfume collection in the late 1960s. This would serve as a platform for international expansion and commercial success.
Calandre, his debut perfume, is still available. Lady Million Eau de Parfum, which was presented in a unique bottle in the form of a gold ingot, remains a top-seller.
He was born in 1934 in the Basque Country in the western Pyrenees. At five years old, he fled the Spanish Civil War and joined his mother who was a head seamstress at Balenciaga.
He studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, before launching his fashion career in 1960.
His career began with high-end handbags and shoes. He then moved into fashion and jewelry, selling large-sized plastic accessories and buttons to couture houses.
His garments were a reflection of the cultural climate of the 1960s. They used post-war industrial material, creating a bold and chunky look. Many of his works reflect his architectural background.
Rabanne retired from the design house after a career spanning three decades.
The country’s highest civil award, Officier de la Legion d’Honneur, was awarded to the designer in 2010.