Fashion designer Paco Rabanne dead at 88

Fashion designer Paco Rabanne, famous for his Space Age metal mesh looks worn by celebrities including Jane Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, died Friday at the age of 88 at his home in Portsall, France.

His death was confirmed by Spanish group Puig, which owns Rabanne’s fashion and fragrance businesses.

“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women to clamor for dresses made of plastic and metal,” said Jose Manuel Albesa, president of Puig’s beauty and fashion division, in a statement.

“That radical, rebellious spirit set him apart: There is only one Rabanne.”

Paco Rabanne with one of his dresses
Paco Rabanne shows off one of his signature chainmail creations in 1994.

Paco Rabanne in his studio
Rabanne works in his studio in 1966.


Paco Rabanne sketching
The designer poses mid-sketch in 1994.


Known as French fashion’s “enfant terrible,” Rabanne design great began his career creating jewelry for Dior, Balenciaga and Givenchy before launching his own namesake fashion house in 1966; comprised of a series of avant-garde plastic ensembles, his debut collection was dubbed “12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials.”

Brigitte Bardot wearing Paco Rabanne
Brigitte Bardot wears Paco Rabanne on the set of “À Cœur Joie (Two Weeks in September” in the 1960s.
Corbis via Getty Images

But Rabanne looks soon proved not just wearable, but covetable. Hepburn was one of his early muses, wearing one of his metal disc dresses in her 1967 movie “Two for the Road,” and the designer also created Fonda’s memorable metallic looks for her iconic 1968 film “Barbarella.”

Jane Fonda in "Barbarella"
Jane Fonda wears this iconic green Paco Rabanne costume in “Barbarella.”
Courtesy Everett Collection

Birkin was another of the designer’s many famous fans; in an iconic portrait of the “Blow-Up” star and husband Serge Gainsbourg, both are dressed in matching metal outfits by Rabanne.

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg embrace in matching silver Paco Rabanne looks.
Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg embrace in matching silver Paco Rabanne looks.

While Rabanne retired in 1999, his label lives on; the Paco Rabanne brand was relaunched in 2011 with designer Manish Arora, and Julien Dossena took the helm in 2014.

Elle Fanning in a Paco Rabanne campaign
Just this week, Elle Fanning was announced as the face of Paco Rabanne’s Fame fragrance.
Paco Rabanne/MEGA

The brand is still best known for its metal mesh pieces inspired by Rabanne’s original designs, with stars including Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa choosing them for red carpets and performances alike.

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