Fashion designer Paco Rabanne dies aged 88
PARIS (AP) — Paco Rabanne, the Spanish-born designer known for his globally sold fragrances but who made a name for himself with space-age metallic fashions that bring a bold new dimension to the runways, is deceased, the group that owns his fashion house announced on Friday.
“La Maison Paco Rabanne wishes to pay tribute to our creator and visionary founder who died today at the age of 88. Among the most influential fashion figures of the 20th century, his legacy will live on,” said the beauty and Puig fashion. .
Le Telegramme newspaper quoted the mayor of Vannes, David Robo, as saying that Rabanne died at his home in the Brittany town of Portsall.
Fashion house Rabanne presents its collections in Paris and is expected to unveil the brand’s latest ready-to-wear creations during fashion week from February 27 to March 3.
Rabanne was known as a rebellious designer in a career that flourished with his collaboration with family business Puig, a Spanish company that now also owns other design houses, including Nina Ricci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carolina Herrera and Dries Van Noten. The company also owns the Byredo and Penhaligon’s fragrance brands.
“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could make fashionable Parisians (to) demand plastic and metal dresses? Who else but Paco Rabanne could dream up a fragrance called Calandre—the word means “car grill,” you know—and make it an icon of modern femininity? the group statement said.
The Calandre perfume was launched in 1969, Puig’s first product in Spain, France and the United States, according to the company.
Born Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo in 1934, the future designer fled the Spanish Basque country at age 5 during the Spanish Civil War and took the name Paco Rabanne.
He studied architecture at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris before turning to sewing, following in the footsteps of his mother, a seamstress in Spain. He said she was jailed at one point for dressing “scandalously”.
Rabanne sold accessories to well-known designers before launching her own collection.
He titled the first collection presented under his own name “12 unportable dresses in contemporary materials”. His innovative outfits were made of various types of metals, including his famous use of mail, the chain-like material associated with medieval knights.
Coco Chanel is said to have called Rabanne “the metallurgist of fashion”.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, hailed “an outstanding artist who has brought a breath of fresh air to the world of haute couture,” his office said.
Paco Rabanne was among the first designers to put black models on the catwalks and in 1983 opened Center 57, dedicated to the black African and Caribbean diaspora. Artists, musicians, filmmakers and hip-hop dancers have frequented the center for several years, the statement from Macron’s office notes.
“My colleagues tell me that I am not a designer but an artisan, and it is true that I am an artisan. … I work with my hands,” he said in an interview in the 1970s.
In the interview given when he was 43 and now held at France’s National Audiovisual Institute, Rabanne explained his radical fashion philosophy, revealing a dark side to his complex character.
“I think fashion is prophetic. Fashion heralds the future,” he said at the time, adding that “the future for me is catastrophic.”
Sure enough, the designer predicted a major catastrophe on August 11, 1999, saying that the Russian space station MIR would fall on France. Instead, a crowd opened champagne at its Left Bank headquarters for a “survivor party”.
Paco Rabanne retired in 2000 and the house did not present a show for five years, from 2006 until the spring-summer 2012 show.
But the designer also said women are the harbingers of what’s on the horizon.
President of the Association of Fashion Designers of Spain, Modesto Lomba, said Rabanne “left an absolute mark on the passage of time. Let’s not forget that he was Spanish and he triumphed at the inside and outside Spain.
Associated Press writer Angela Charlton contributed to this report.