Paco Rabanne, famous French fashion designer and perfumer died this Friday at the age of 88, at his home in Brittany.

Paco Rabanne

Paco Rabanne Portrait (1999)
Credits: Nathaniel Goldberg

The metallurgist of the fashion

He’s not a designer, he’s a metallurgist ! said Coco Chanel of him. And for good reason, Paco Rabanne, introduced industrial materials in its collections in 1966. Paco Rabanne, cantor of metallic clothing, was known for his sense of formula and his eccentricity. Beyond the haute couture catwalks, the Breton at heart who claimed to have seen God as extraterrestrials knew how to hit the headlines with his taste for the paranormal. In 1999, he also caused a lot of talk by predicting the fall of the Mir station. A baroque prophecy which will have earned him a lot of detractors.

A particular style inspired by architecture

Born on February 18, 1934 in Pasaia, in the province of Guipuscoa in the Spanish Basque Country, Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo – his real name – was immersed in the world of couture very early on thanks to his mother, who worked for Cristobal Balenciaga. After the death of her husband, colonel of King Alfonso XIII shot by the Francoists, the latter fled Spain with her four children. They cross the Pyrenees on foot and arrived in France, they take refuge in Brittany, near Morlaix. It was his studies in architecture at the Beaux-Arts in Paris that allowed him to develop a particular style in fashion. He also began by designing bags and shoes to finance his studies. But it is his dresses with geometric lines that mark, in particular the “twelve experimental dresses” of 1964.

He predicted the end of the world

He uses new materials then: Rhodoïd plates, sequins, metal, riveted leather… He does not use thread and needle, but rather pliers. Coco Chanel called him a “metallurgist”. Invariably dressed in the dark gray shirt-suit that he owned in three hundred copies, the beard trimmed into a necklace, Paco Rabanne considered prophetic fashion, presented himself as a medium, and claimed to have seen god. Obsessed with the irrational and past lives, he predicted the end of the world in best-selling books.

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