Surely, there are iconic latex designers. But plenty of men and women work with other textiles to make their name and career. And plenty of designers who branch out even further beyond wardrobe designs. Spanish-bornPaco Rabanne was one of these iconic figures.
He died last Friday at the age of eighty-eight.
Born Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo, Rabanne and his mother, head of tailoring at Spain’s Balenciaga, left their home country for France when the Spanish Civil War began. Studying architecture at Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he graduated in 1964, he began his career creating jewelry for design for Dior and Givenchy, naming just a few, before launching the label that would wear his name in 1966. And while we might think latex an unusual material (and a most beloved one), Rabanne became known for using paper, plastic, and surely metal for his “metal couture.” The year he began his brand, Rabanne debuted a collection called “Manifesto: 12 unwearable dresses in contemporary materials.” This certainly set the designer on his singular path and got him quickly branded with creating ‘space-age’ designs.
In 1967, Audrey Hepburn famously wore the designer’s chainmail-inspired dress in the movie Two for the Road. A year later, the world caught his sure sexy space designs in the costumes he provided for Jane Fonda’s Barbarella. Singer Mylène Farmer wore his couture in her concerts, and famous ladies of the day, like Brigette Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor, were also clients.
In 1968 he began collaborating with the Puig fragrance company to begin marketing perfumes, his first released the very next year, called Calandre.
Certainly, a man as known for his creativity as some of his eccentric claims and predictions, Rabanne claimed he had lived a few past lives, said he had been visited by extraterrestrials, murdered Tutankhamun, and had lived over a hundred of years.