When utilized to apparel, “unwearable” is usually a criticism. But the term was celebrated by designer Paco Rabanne when he dubbed his 1966 selection “12 Unwearable Dresses in Up to date Materials”. The radical garments, produced from plastic and metal strips and discs, launched him into the preferred consciousness as an avant-garde however glamorous designer. He was driving some of the 1960s most unforgettable appears to be like.
Rabanne, who has died aged 88, was a modernising figure on the 1960s fashion scene, producing models that chimed with the decade’s obsession with area vacation. He is connected with the “space age” movement in fashion, alongside with André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin, who all captured the era’s youthful energy in diverse means.
Rabanne was born Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo in 1934, in the Basque region of Spain. He was launched to design and style early as a result of his mother’s position as head seamstress at Cristóbal Balenciaga’s couture atelier in San Sebastián. But he and his mom fled to France immediately after his Republican colonel father was killed by Francoist soldiers all through the Spanish civil war.
Amongst 1951 and 1963, Rabanne researched architecture at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He supported himself by promoting buttons and producing sketches for prestigious fashion residences this sort of as Balenciaga, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel. In 1965, he produced fun, optical artwork jewellery designed from rhodoid plastic, dubbed Pacotilles.
The designer viewed as the “12 Unwearable Dresses” a manifesto for his imaginative method. The Resort George V in Paris delivered the backdrop as models paraded to the disconcertingly skittish strains of composer Pierre Boulez’s surrealist function Le Marteau sans Maître. Compared with a classic tailor with a needle and thread, he made use of pliers, hammers and blowtorches, and declared “the dying of cloth”. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel described him as a “metallurgist de la mode.”
Alexandre Samson, manner curator and historian at the Palais Galliera museum, explained the designer as “a trailblazer for his use of supplies. He was the initial substantial-manner designer to switch his back again on classical fabric.” His “unique structures” were being combined, said Samson, with “influences from Historical Egypt, Medieval situations and the Center East”.
The magic of Rabanne’s creations was not constrained to how they looked. In a 2002 New York Moments post, veteran trend editor Polly Mellen recalled that when she experimented with his clothing on, she found them “balanced in a really lovely way, in a really engineered way”. Mellen also explained witnessing a female arriving at a Mozart live performance in a mermaid-like disc costume — a Rabanne generation. “She walked in late and stopped the concert since she sounded like a wind chime.”
In the 1960s, Rabanne’s types ended up worn by some of the stars who described the age: well-known French singer Françoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. He created costumes for Jane Fonda in Barbarella and for Audrey Hepburn in Two for the Street. He also worked with Salvador Dalí, who when stated: “There are only two geniuses in Spain: me and Paco Rabanne.”
Rabanne’s individual wardrobe was minimum, consisting of black shirts in both workmanlike or monastic cuts, and his way of life was simple. He did, on the other hand, hold some unforeseen views. He believed that he had led earlier life, and subscribed to the predictions of Nostradamus.
In 1968 Puig, the Spanish luxury business, acquired Paco Rabanne parfums and later produced Calandre, a rose fragrance with a metallic trace supposed to counsel “lovemaking in a Rolls-Royce”. Other noteworthy fragrances involved Paco Rabanne Pour Homme produced in 1973, and 1 Million which arrived in 2008.
José Manuel Albesa, president of the splendor and fashion division at Puig, stated of Rabanne: “He manufactured transgression magnetic. Who else could induce modern Parisian girls to clamour for attire built of plastic and metal? Who but Paco Rabanne could think about a fragrance identified as Calandre — the term indicates ‘automobile grill’, you know — and switch it into an icon of modern-day femininity?”
Rabanne retired from style in 1999. But his eponymous label’s cachet has been boosted in modern decades less than creative director Julien Dossena, who has reinvented the label’s signature metalwork and minidresses for present day, social gathering-loving purchasers.
Samson mentioned: “There is a dream in vogue among designers that they can create seamless dresses, and in his own way Paco Rabanne succeeded in accomplishing that due to the fact he created assemblages which weren’t linked to seams any longer. It was a different way of creating apparel.”