The legendary fashion designer Paco Rabanne Has Died at Age 88

The legendary fashion designer Paco Rabanne Died at age 88. He was known as a fashion maverick with a futuristic vision and use of unconventional materials and left a big mark in fashion history. Puig, which owns the brand that bears his name, announced that Paco Rabanne passed away in Brittany, northwestern France on February 3.

The brand stated on its Instagram, “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.”

Paco Rabanne’s career as a designer has been unprecedented and unusual. Although Rabanne did not build such a kingdom as well as Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, he surprised the haute couture industry by making clothes using unusual materials such as plastic and aluminum. He was one of the designers who made a name for himself not only in fashion but also in the fragrance industry.

Rabanne at the Paris Atelier in 1996. Image: Eric Robert/Sygma/Getty Images

Rabanne was born in the Basque Country in northern Spain in 1934. During the civil war, he experienced the “Bombing of Guernica”, and he left Spain and fled to France at 5.

At the age of 17, he moved to Paris and began studying architecture at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Rabanne met the specialist in reinforced concrete, Auguste Perret there, and discovered the beauty of geometric and hard materials. This led him to later create “Rabanne’s unique creations” that fuse organic soft materials with geometric query materials.

In 1966, his couture “Paco Rabanne” debuted, complete with hair by Vidal Sassoon. His first collection, “12 Unwearable Dresses,” was made of modern materials,” and featured novel materials such as plastic, metal, and paper that had never been used in clothing before. In addition, the process of making clothes was not “sewing”, but finished by joining different materials with pliers or sticking them together with adhesive. Such a “Ravanne method” created a great sensation within the industry and brought a breath of fresh air to the fashion world in the 1960s.

“They were shivering in terror! It was difficult for them because they saw clothes that they couldn’t understand.” Rabanne told The Times. 

Left Image: Keystone/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images, Right Image: Neal Boenzi /The New York Times

Then, the fragrance “Calandre” was released in 1969. This fragrance line later became a major product that supported the brand’s economic base. In 1973, the megahit fragrance “Paco Rabanne Pour Homme“ was launched and the brand opened the way to men’s fragrance portfolio. In 1996, the unisex second line “Paco” was launched in both the fragrance and clothing divisions.

However, as most of the cultural revolution that began in the ’60s came to the end the brand had lost momentum by 1980 and was forced to relinquish the limelight to a new generation of designers. In 1999, Rabanne announced the end of its haute couture department with the autumn-winter Paris haute couture collection.

After that, the brand and Barcelona-based Puig looked for a way to revive the brand while continuing to exist the brand in the fragrance business. In 2011, designer Manish Arora was appointed to resume the dormant clothing line. Since 2013, French designer Julien Dossena has been appointed as creative director and he has made the world of Paco Rabanne resonate with the world again.

Tributes continue to pour in from the fashion industry following Rabanne’s death. 

Valentino Garavani praised Rabanne’s legacy and said, “He changed it all and surprised us in the late Seventies….Surprise is always a good thing in fashion!”

Giorgio Armani expressed his sorrow, “fashion continues to lose radical authors, capable of inventing worlds and visions from scratch.“ “With Paco Rabanne, we lose an authentic futurist, an experimenter always projected forward, always open to tomorrow,” he followed.

Bruno Pavlovsky, president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, stated: “Paco Rabanne was a major fashion designer who never stopped exploring traditional know-how and new techniques with audacity and eccentricity. A couturier who broke new ground in fashion since his first show in Paris.” After graduating from school, he earned a living by selling his accessories to maisons such as Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Chanel.

Oui Speak Fashion’s editorial department would like to offer our deepest condolences.

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