“My clothes are like weapons. When you zip up a dress, it makes the sound of a revolver being unlocked,” is how Paco Rabanne described his creations. And indeed – he made a splash with it. Even though the dresses he proposed were heavy, uncomfortable, hurtful to the delicate female body, and terribly expensive to produce – he was still a success. He had simply hit his time. The Cold War. He died on 3 February this year, at the age of 88.
He was not a ‘great tailor’, not at all familiar with cut or tailoring techniques, and yet the fashion world revelled in his farewell. Although the Spanish creator had not been involved in fashion for a long time, rather associated with perfumes, the Rabanne brand still exists, but design decisions are made by the patron’s successors. He himself withdrew from the fashion world in 1999.
Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo, born in Pasaia in the Basque Country on 18 February 1934, arrived in France at an early age with his mother, who had taken refuge in Paris from the Spanish Civil War. She had her reasons – the Francoists had killed her husband, a Republican colonel. It was also thanks to his parent that young Paco found his way into the world of great fashion. While still in Spain, his mother worked as head seamstress for Cristóbal Balenciaga, and when the designer moved the company to Paris in 1939, Madame Rabaneda followed him with her family.
In the French capital, Paco studied at the architecture department of the Academy of Fine Arts, earning his money by sketching for Dior, Givenchy and Charles Jourdan, the shoe king at the time.
Under his own label, he debuted (1965) with plastic jewellery and accessories. At the time, he was pals with Antoine Stinko, an avant-garde architect, and the fashion designer couple Quasar and Emmanuelle Khahn. They were all fans of artificial plastics, unconcerned with the preferences of traditional audiences.
Anyway, by the mid-1960s, the world was crazy about ‘modernity’ in interior design and ladies’ attire – men proved more resistant to clothing utopias. However, even avant-garde women were reluctant to wear dresses made of transparent plastic….
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– Monika Małkowska
– Translated by Tomasz Krzyżanowski