Honoring A Life: The Visionary And Avant-Garde Paco Rabanne Passes Away - Meaningful Life

The designer is referred to as among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century.

An article from the New York Times refers to the designer as the “couturier of the space age” further stating that, “He burst onto the French fashion scene in 1966 and, with dresses made from metal, plastic and paper, changed the definition of couture.

Paco Rabanne, the Spanish designer whose futuristic creations gave shape to the dreams of the space age and redefined couture, died on Friday in Portsall, France. He was 88.

His death was confirmed by Puig, the luxury group that owns the brand. No cause was given.”

The same article writes: “Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic,” Jose Manuel Albesa, the president of the beauty and fashion division at Puig, said in a statement. “Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women to clamor for dresses made of plastic and metal?”

The report elaborates that Mr. Rabanne’s career was a moon shot unto itself. He burst onto the French fashion scene in 1966 with a collection called “Manifesto: 12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials” and chain-link minidresses composed of hundreds of plastic and metal disks. Three years later he introduced his first perfume, called Calandre (the name means “car grill”), which became the basis of a fragrance empire.

In a related story, The Washington Post states, “Over the decades, the Spanish-born Mr. Rabanne built a global brand widely known in retail settings for perfumes, men’s fragrances and off-the-rack outfits and, in the couture world, for runway collections that experimented with colors and materials such as plastics, paper and even coconuts.”

All About Fashion History’s Instagram post shares, “Chanel called him “the metallurgist” and his contemporaries accuse him of not making couture. 

Rabanne gave up architecture to devote himself to fashion. From his early days, he rejected traditional sewing techniques to explore unusual materials and reinvented more conventional materials such as leather, giving them a different use. He worked with pliers and a blowtorch, eliminating the seam, and using the body as an artistic medium.

Paco Rabanne with Jane Fonda
Paco Rabanne with Jane Fonda | Image via Instagram @allaboutfashionhistory

In the 1960s, the decade of the conquest of space, Rabanne went much further, understanding fashion as a space for experimentation and creating a totally new style. He created a collection composed of “12 impossible-to-wear dresses”, swimsuits made of rhodoid discs and dresses based on paper. He used metal which, together with the rhodoid, created a kind of futuristic armor.

His creations were exhibited in the most avant-garde galleries and he was responsible for the costumes for the films ‘Two on the Road’, starring Audrey Hepburn, and ‘Barbarella’, with Jane Fonda (on the photo).”

According to the brand’s Instagram post: “The House of Paco Rabanne wishes to honour our visionary designer and founder who passed away today at the age of 88. Among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century, his legacy will remain a constant source of inspiration. 

We are grateful to Monsieur Rabanne for establishing our avant-garde heritage and defining a future of limitless possibilities.”

Banner photos via Instagram @pacorabanne of Paco Rabanne Portrait (1999) and @allaboutfashionhistory.

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