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Paco Rabanne Dies at 88

The Spanish designer helped define the 1960s’ Space Age aesthetic.
The Spanish-born designer Paco Rabanne dies at 88.
The Spanish-born designer Paco Rabanne has died at 88. (Getty Images)

Paco Rabanne — the Spanish designer best known for his Space-Age aesthetic, use of metallics and swift-selling fragrances — has died at 88.

His death was confirmed by Spanish group Puig, which controls the Paco Rabanne fashion house and fragrance business.

”Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women [to] clamour for dresses made of plastic and metal? Who but Paco Rabanne could imagine a fragrance called Calandre – the word means ‘automobile grill’ – and turn it into an icon of modern femininity? That radical, rebellious spirit set him apart: there is only one Rabanne,” said José Manuel Albesa, president of beauty and fashion at Puig.

”A major personality in fashion, his was a daring, revolutionary and provocative vision, conveyed through a unique aesthetic,” added chairman Marc Puig.

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Rabanne was born in Pasajes, Spain in 1934 and studied architecture at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He founded his label in 1966, launching his first collection “Manifesto:12 unwearable dresses in contemporary materials” at the Hotel George-V.

His sequined skirts and chain-mail minidresses attracted fans like Jane Birkin, Audrey Hepburn, Mia Farrow and Jane Fonda, and landed him the role of costume designer for cult film Barbarella.

Paco Rabanne was a “couturier who broke new ground in fashion since his first show in Paris,” said Bruno Pavlovsky, president of France’s Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. He “was a major fashion designer who never stopped exploring traditional know-how and new techniques with audacity and eccentricity.”

The designer began working with Puig in the late 1960s, launching the Calandre fragrance with the group in 1969. It was Puig’s first product launch in Spain, France and the US and paved the way for the company’s international expansion.

Rabanne retired in 1999, stepping out of the public eye. His label lay dormant until 2011, when it was revived by Puig, first with Indian designer Manish Arora and then with Frenchman Julien Dossena, who worked at Balenciaga under Nicolas Ghesquière and has designed the label since 2013.


Editor's Note: This article was revised on Feb 3. 2023, to add additional detail and comment from Bruno Pavlovsky.

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