Lauded Fashion Designer Paco Rabanne Dies at Age 88

FILE - Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne poses with a model wearing a white dress with a metallic headpiece after presenting his 1992/93 fall-winter haute couture collection in Paris, France, on July 29, 1992. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours, File)

PARIS (AP) — Paco Rabanne, the Spanish-born designer known for perfumes sold worldwide and his metallic, space-age fashions, has died, the group that owns his fashion house announced on its website Friday.

“The House of Paco Rabanne wishes to honor our visionary designer and founder who passed away today at the age of 88. Among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century, his legacy will remain,” the statement from beauty and fashion company Puig said.

FILE – Franco-Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne acknowledges the applause at the end of his fall-winter 2000/2001 collection on March 3, 2000 in Paris, France.  (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File)

Le Telegramme newspaper quoted the mayor of Vannes, David Robo, as saying that Rabanne died at his home in the Brittany region town of Portsall.

Rabanne’s fashion house shows its collections in Paris and is scheduled to unveil the brand’s latest ready-to-wear designs during the upcoming Feb. 27-March 3 fashion week.


FILE – Waxwork mannequins were used by Paris couturier Paco Rabanne for the presentation of his 1973 collection of paper dresses, Jan. 22, 1973.  (AP Photo/Bernard Ferret, File)

He was known as a rebel designer in a career that blossomed with his collaboration with the family-owned Puig, a Spanish company that now also owns other design houses, including Nina Ricci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Caroline Herrera and Dries Van Noten. The company also owns the fragrance brands Byredo and Penhaligon’s.

“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women (to) clamor 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?” the group’s statement said.

FILE – Franco-Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne poses with a model on January 30, 1991 in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Pierre Gleizes, File)

Calandre perfume was launched in 1969, the first product by Puig 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 of Paco Rabanne.

FILE – Fashion designer Paco Rabanne presents this dazzling kinetic minidress of plastic triangles riveted together and worn with an open-work trellis fur over bright plastic, topped with a matching cap, from his new collection in Paris, France, on Oct. 26, 1967. (AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz, File)

He studied architecture at Paris’ Beaux Arts Academie before moving to couture, following in in the steps of his mother, who was a couturier in Spain. He said she was jailed at one point for being dressed in a “scandalous” fashion.

He sold accessories to well-known designers before launching his own collection.

FILE – A Paco Rabanne rare aluminum tunic dress is seen on display at Christie’s auction house in London, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008.  (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)

He titled the first collection presented under his own name “12 unwearable dresses in contemporary materials.” His innovative outfits were made of various kinds of metal, including his famous use of mail, the chain-like material associated with Medieval knights.

Coco Chanel reportedly called Rabanne “the metallurgist of fashion.”

FILE – For spring 1975 dresses by Paris couturier Paco Rabanne in Paris in October 1974.   (AP Photo/Cardenas, File)

“My colleagues tell me I am not a couturier but an artisan, and it’s true that I’m an artisan. … I work with my hands,” he said in interview in the 1970s.

In an interview given when he was 43 years old and now held in thFrance’s National Audiovisual Institute, Rabanne explained his radical fashion philosophy,

“I think fashion is prophetic. Fashion announces the future,” he said, adding that women were harbingers of what lies on the horizon.

“When hair balloons, regimes fall,” Rabanne said. “When hair is smooth, all is well.”


Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.