Who Was Paco Rabanne, The Designer Of "Metallic" Clothes?

Paco Rabanne, one of the most famous designers in the world, died in early February this year. His name will forever be remembered in the fashion world.

Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo (his real name) was born in Spain in 1934, but he spent most of his life in France, where he fled with his mother to escape the Spanish Civil War.

Paco Rabanne studied architecture at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris and dedicated himself to designing avant-garde fashion accessories.

He was the son of the head seamstress of the Balenciaga atelier, and his career began as a jewelry and accessories designer for renowned fashion houses including Balenciaga, Cardin, and Givenchy.

Paco Rabanne - The Designer Of "Metallic" Clothes

Also known as the designer of "metallic" clothes, Paco Rabanne decided to launch his brand in 1966 at the Hotel Georges V in Paris, where he presented a collection of twelve dresses made of materials such as metal, plastic, rhodium, and aluminum.

The collection was called "Twelve Importable Dresses In Contemporary Materials", and the dresses were bold and provocative, reminiscent of ancient armor, but with an avant-garde style. Instead of needle and thread, the designer used pliers and patent leather to join the parts of each dress together, becoming famous for this "art of assembly."

 Paco Rabanne Designer Of "Metallic" Clothes

His clothes had to be worn on the naked body to highlight the models' shapes. Their bodies were melded with the clothes highlighting their curves, and making them sculptural and seductive. They were made more for aesthetic than practical purposes and are considered true works of art.

The 1966 fashion show was truly memorable not only for the uniqueness of Rabanne's creations but also because he was the first designer to use music during the fashion show.

But Paco Rabanne's creations also drew stinging criticism from the fashion world, because Paris was a capital of haute couture, and his innovative use of completely new materials in the industry, like metal for example, aroused the displeasure of other conservative fashion designers.

One of these critics was Coco Chanel who called Paco Rabanne the "Metallurgist of fashion".

Salvador Dali Called Paco Rabanne "Spain's Second-Greatest Genius"

Paco Rabanne's work found admirers among renowned avant-garde artists such as Salvador DalĂ­, who called him Spain's second-greatest genius.

Paco Rabanne has attracted the attention of famous actresses and singers with his creations, such as Françoise Hardy, who made history in 1967 by wearing a mini-dress made of tiny gold foils encrusted with diamonds that caused a sensation.

But Rabanne's luminescent fabrics and thin metallic foils have also appeared on the big screen, worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1967 film Two for the Road and Jane Fonda in 1968's Barbarella.

The Spanish designer's creations have been increasingly popular, with Paco Rabanne presenting more and more ingenious designs. His fashion creations were extraordinarily appreciated by the most famous supermodels and actresses of the 90s, who wore them to the most exclusive events.

According to Bazar, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the brand's foundation in 1996, Paco Rabanne launched a limited edition "Do it yourself" version of a well-known dress from the first collection. Inside the suitcase-shaped box are discs, metal rings, and two logoed clips. Instructions are indispensable to guide you through assembling the pieces. It's very rare to stumble across this limited edition, but now and then, in a vintage shop or on the internet, you might get lucky.

Paco Rabanne retired from the fashion design field in 1999 to pursue other artistic pursuits.

In 2010, the French Ministry of Culture made him an Officer of the Legion of Honour.

Paco Rabanne died at the age of 88 on 3 February 2023.  

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