Paco Rabanne

Daphne Stylianou

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA257

Paco Rabanne is a Spanish designer, born in 1934 in Pasagès de San Pedro, Spain. During the Spanish Civil War he left Spain for France with his mother, a seamstress at Balenciaga. He studied architecture at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and this has always been a significant influence on his work.

Rabanne entered the fashion industry as a jewelry designer for prominent fashion houses such as Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, and Givenchy. In the spirit of the vibrant and colorful decade of the 1960s, he created statement pieces in bright and geometric shapes. He bravely experimented and thrived in this space-age era of fashion, with futuristic and expertly crafted designs.

In 1966 Rabanne debuted his first collection of innovative and bold clothing designs, titled “Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials.” He introduced his aesthetic and original vision through the way he used surprising materials like plastic, metal, and acetate to embellish his clothes.

As a leading force in the fashion world, he was asked to design costumes for theater and film. Jane Fonda immortalizes Rabanne’s infamous outfits in the sci-film Barbarella in 1968. Rabanne collected a lot of praise and awards in his career, including the prestigious Golden Thimble. In 1999 he retired after presenting his final collection, but the house still operates and has found incredible success with the label’s fragrances, a business that Rabanne established in the 1960s.

Paco Rabanne, Spring/Summer 1995. Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Kamitsis Linda. Paco Rabanne . London : Thames & Hudson, 1999.

Find in Library Taylor Kerry. Vintage Fashion & Couture: From Poiret to McQueen . London : Mitchell Beazley, 2013.

The Now and Future Paco Rabanne.” Vogue ( U.S .), 1 March 1967.