“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Paco Rabanne. The history of Puig and Paco Rabanne began in the late 1960s with the launch of Calandre, the perfume created soon after the designer released ‘12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials.’ A major personality in fashion, his was a daring, revolutionary and provocative vision, conveyed through a unique aesthetic. He will remain an important source of inspiration for the Puig fashion and fragrance teams, who continuously work together to express Mr. Paco Rabanne’s radically modern codes. I extend my sincere condolences to his family and to those who have known him,” stated Marc Puig, Chairman and CEO of the Puig group, which owned Rabanne’s label since the late 1960s.
Francisco Rabaneda-Cuervo was born in 1934 in Spain’s Basque region, near the city of San Sebastian, where his mother was a seamstress for the designer Cristobal Balenciaga and his father was an army general. Rabanne’s life was uprooted by the Spanish Civil War when the army of dictator Francisco Franco turned on his father, a commander of the Guernica garrison, and gunned him down in 1936. In 1939 his family fled to France and Rabanne went on to study at the Beaux-Arts university in Paris, graduating with a diploma in architecture.
Rabanne started out as a co-creator of the 1960s space-age movement in fashion alongside designers such as Pierre Cardin, who incorporated the era’s giddy excitement around the future and technological advancements into their clothes. His 1966 show brought immediate fame and notoriety when he stunned the audience with "12 Unwearable Dresses", his models dancing barefoot down the catwalk in outfits made of sharp metal and other unlikely materials. Which earned him to be dismissed as "the metal worker" by Coco Chanel.
His influence nonetheless carried through many generations and he famously dressed global superstar Lady Gaga in outfits made entirely of paper for her 2011 appearance at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
It was in 1968 that he signed a license agreement with the Puig family, who owned a perfume manufacturing and distribution business in Barcelona, for the exploitation of perfumes. The launch of "Calandre" then marked the first success of a long series. Since 1986, the Puig group, which also owns Nina Ricci, the Carolina Herrera brands and Prada and Comme des Garçons perfumes, has owned the entire Paco Rabanne house.
"Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women to clamour for dresses made of plastic and metal?" said Jose Manuel Albesa, President Puig Beauty & Fashion.
Ever the provocateur, Rabanne had a penchant for mysticism and esoterism. In 1999 he predicted in his book "Fire From Heaven" that Paris would be destroyed later that year when the Russian space station Mir crashed down to Earth — a claim derived from his reading of the 16th-century French seer Nostradamus. "To say that Paco Rabanne marches to his own drummer is an understatement," the New York Times wrote in 2002. "He’s been called a futurist, couturier, mystic, madman, Dadaist, sculptor, architect, astrologer, perfumer, artist and prophet."