Paco Rabanne passed away at the age of 88. The fashion designer and creator of world-famous perfumes was considered one of the most influential figures in 20th-century European fashion. Also called “Wacko Paco” (German: “crazy Paco”), Rabanne drew attention to herself in the 1960s with futuristic designs that were considered unwearable.
In 1966, at a fashion show in Paris, he presented “12 Unwearable Dresses”: His models danced barefoot down the catwalk, dressed in outfits made of sharp-edged metal and other unusual materials.
Just two years later, he designed the world-famous costume worn by Jane Fonda in the sci-fi classic Barbarella. Together with fashion designers such as Pierre Cardin, he heralded the “space age” in fashion – and earned the probably derogatory nickname “the metal worker”, which Coco Chanel bestowed on him.
Famous with perfumes: the global brand Paco Rabanne
In the second half of his life, Rabanne became known worldwide primarily for the perfumes of his Parisian fashion house. He also designed US star Lady Gaga’s costume for the 2011 MTV Music Awards. It was made entirely of paper (as seen in the tweet below right).
Rabanne, actually Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo, was born in 1934 in the Basque Country in Spain. His mother worked as the first seamstress for the designer Cristobal Balenciaga. Her work is said to have had a decisive influence on his career choice.
After his father died in the Spanish Civil War, Rabanne fled to France with his family. He studied architecture at the Université des Beaux Arts in Paris and initially worked as a designer of accessories such as jewellery, ties and buttons for other fashion designers. Through his designs, he drew the attention of colleagues such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Cardin.
A follower of mysticism
Throughout his life, Rabanne played the role of provocateur – and not just in his designs. Equipped with a penchant for esotericism, he is said to have claimed at various points in time to be 78,000 years old, to have received visits from extraterrestrials and to have seen God.
The success of his perfume series, which he developed under the umbrella of the Spanish Puig Group, brought him global fame and a high profile beyond the world of fashion. “His legacy will not be forgotten,” said a statement published by the Puig Group on Friday (February 3, 2023) announcing the death of the “visionary designer”.
(cl/nf with dpa/afp/ap)