Revolutionary Designer Paco Rabanne Has Died

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Paco Rabanne (1999)
Paco Rabanne (1999)

The Spanish-born designer, known for his space-age looks made from unconventional materials, passed away today aged 88

Today it has been announced that pioneering Spanish-born designer Paco Rabanne has passed away, aged 88. The news was confirmed by the official Paco Rabanne Instagram, as well as the brand’s parent company, Puig, in a heartfelt statement from the president of Puig’s fashion and beauty division, José Manuel Albesa. 

“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women to clamour for dresses made of plastic and metal? Who but Paco Rabanne could imagine a fragrance called Calandre – the word means ‘automobile grill,’ you know – and turn it into an icon of modern femininity?” Albesa shared in his statement, continuing to say: “With his passing, we are reminded once again of his enormous influence on contemporary fashion, a spirit that lives on in the house that bears his name.”

Born Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo, the designer was a refugee from the Spanish civil war. He escaped with his mother to France in 1939 while he was still a young infant, where his mother later changed his name. Like many other great fashion designers – Raf Simons, Tom Ford and Pierre Cardin, to name a few – he studied architecture before turning to fashion, first designing costume jewellery, obtaining jobs at Balenciaga, Nina Ricca and Givenchy. It wasn’t until 1966, when Rabanne released his first collection of clothing – 12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials – a small selection of looks made up of dazzling, experimental materials that marked a seismic shift in 1960s Parisian fashion. They were new, space-age, and scandalously see-through. Jane Fonda and Audrey Hepburn donned the cutting-edge, chainmail looks in films, while Jane Birkin wore them to parties with Serge Gainsbourg, empowered in their intergalactic modernity.

In 1999, Paco Rabanne retired from fashion. French designer Julien Dossena, currently at the creative helm of Paco Rabanne, continues the dazzling legacy left behind in his absence. He is today recognised as one of fashion’s greatest enfant terribles, revolutionising fashion with an avante-garde perspective and an uncompromising vision.