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Home » Paco Rabanne, Acclaimed Rebel Fashion Designer, Passes Away at 88

Paco Rabanne, Acclaimed Rebel Fashion Designer, Passes Away at 88

04 February 2023, Saturday
The fashion house founded by Paco Rabanne, the Spanish-born designer known for his globally-sold perfumes and his out-of-the-ordinary metallic space-age fashions, announced his passing on Friday. Puig, the beauty and fashion company that owns the Paco Rabanne label, issued a statement honoring the legendary designer. 

"The House of Paco Rabanne wishes to recognize our visionary designer and founder who has passed away today at the age of 88. One of the most influential fashion figures of the 20th century, his legacy will stay in our hearts forever."

The mayor of Vannes, David Robo, has announced that Pierre Cardin's collaborator, Paco Rabanne, has passed away at his home in Portsall, Brittany. His fashion house, which produces collections in Paris, is set to debut its latest ready-to-wear collection during the upcoming Feb. 27-March 3 fashion week. Le Telegramme quoted Robo in saying that Rabanne died at his home in the region.

Paco Rabanne was a trailblazing designer whose career flourished alongside the Puig family business. The Spanish-based establishment is also the parent company of esteemed design houses such as Nina Ricci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carolina Herrera, and Dries Van Noten, in addition to fragrance brands Byredo and Penhaligon’s. Rabanne's revolutionary vision helped to shape the fashion landscape as we know it today.

Paco Rabanne made transgression alluring. He was capable of inspiring fashionable Parisian women to eagerly acquire dresses crafted from plastic and metal. Also, his creation of the fragrance Calandre – meaning 'automobile grill' – was known to be a symbol of modern femininity. This was the sentiment expressed in a statement by the group.

In 1934, Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo, who would later become a renowned designer, was born in the Spanish Basque country before he had to flee at the age of 5 during the Spanish Civil War. He changed his name to Paco Rabanne. In 1969, his first product, the Calandre perfume, was launched across Spain, France, and the United States by Puig.

Paco Rabanne began his career in fashion by studying architecture at the prestigious Beaux Arts Academie in Paris. He was inspired by his mother, a couturier in Spain, and decided to follow in her footsteps. Rabanne did not shy away from pushing boundaries of fashion; apparently, his mother was once even jailed for wearing a "scandalous" outfit. Before launching his own collection, he gained valuable experience by selling accessories to noted designers.

The first collection presented under Paco Rabanne's own name was titled “12 unwearable dresses in contemporary materials,” showcasing his innovative outfits made of a variety of metals, most notably mail. Coco Chanel referred to him as “the metallurgist of fashion” due to his creative use of modern materials.

President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte paid tribute to "a unique artist who changed the landscape of haute couture", said their office.

Paco Rabanne was one of the initial designers to showcase Black mannequins on the catwalk and in 1983 founded Centre 57, devoted to the Black African and Caribbean diaspora. The center was frequented by artists, musicians, filmmakers and hip-hop dancers for numerous years, Macron's office added.

In an interview during the 1970s, he said: "My colleagues say I am not a couturier but an artisan, and it's true that I work with my hands."

At the time of his 43rd birthday, Rabanne provided an interview to the National Audiovisual Institute of France in which he elucidated his revolutionary vision of fashion. He declared that fashion serves as a harbinger of the future and in his opinion, a dismal future at that. He even stated that on August 11th, 1999 an astronomical disaster would befall France in the form of the Russian MIR space station plummeting down. To much surprise, the event did not happen and his workplace on the Left Bank was filled with people celebrating by toasting champagne in merriment.

Paco Rabanne retired from the fashion world in 2000. For the next five years, until the spring-summer 2012 show, there were no Rabanne runway shows. The president of the Association of Fashion Designers of Spain, Modesto Lomba, stated that Rabanne left an indelible mark on fashion history and that he was quite successful both within and outside Spain. Additionally, Rabanne noted that women are trendsetters, often predicting what is to come.
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