Five Things You Should Know About Paco Rabanne

Models walk the runway during the Paco Rabanne Spring 2012 Paris Fashion Week show.
Photo: WireImage

Avant-garde fashion is all about audacity and spectacle but rarely does it make it to life off the runway—that is unless you’re a pop star. If there’s one happy marriage between fashion and music, it has to be CRAZY OUTFITS. (Admit it, we love them!) And if there’s any current pop star who brings the most innovative, arresting, talked about creations to LIFE it’s Lady Gaga (of course). Mother Monster has turned edgier designers into superstars overnight (hello, Sally LaPointe and Asher Levine), and if her recent appearance at this year’s 2011 EMA is any indication, the newly resurrected 1960s label, Paco Rabanne, is about to experience a SURGE in popularity. Our lady wore five different Rabanne outfits to the awards show and all of them were CRAZY AWESOME. We’re talking a floor-length gown made of silver squares, giant cylindrical dresses that resembled metallic coffee filters, and a GORGE teal-green lady suit topped with a disc hat that completely covered her face. We’re expecting the house of Paco Rabanne to be the next big thing even though it’s been around for more than 40 years. Thus, here are five very important things you need to know about the former designer, the new designer, and why Lady Gaga is all up in its biz.


Even though the label has been around since the ’60s, Paco Rabanne no longer designs for the label. The brand recently enlisted Indian designer Manish Arora who, if you remember, designed a KILLER bedazzled 3-D skeleton dress worn by Nicki Minaj earlier this year. As the current creative director of womenswear, Arora presented his first spring 2012 collection for the label during Paris Fashion Week last month and did so on a duo of escalators. Each ensemble was gasp-worthy and brought elements from deep in the archive back to life. The picture above should tell you everything. SHINY SPACE-AGE BANANAS.

Paco Rabanne’s Famous Armored Dress, made from metal plates, 1968; Lady Gaga posing backstage with her 2011 MTV EMA awards.
Photo: Getty Images


Paco Rabanne is an actual dude and, yes, he’s still alive and kickin’. He started his career in fashion by designing accessories for Dior and Balenciaga before launching his own label in 1966. And you should know that when he launched it, people thought it was cuckoo for CRAY-CRAY (translation: super cool and misunderstood). Mr. Rabanne used everything from paper and plastic to sharp metal (ouch) to construct his creations. He even designed an entire line called “12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials” because they were totally unwearable even though they looked interesting. He chalked it all up to having first started out as an architect, but we think it’s because he had a vision and made it happen not caring at all what people thought. (Sounds very Lady G to us.)

Jane Fonda plays the lead in the science fiction fantasy film “Barbarella” in 1968.
Photo: Getty Images


OK, have you ever seen Barbarella? It’s a classic of the cult sci-fi variety but is also notable for its use and non-use of artfully designed clothing. (In a nutshell, it’s a whole lotta nakie people frolicking around space…also, it’s HILARIOUS). It stars Jane Fonda as a total babe/space spy named Barbarella who does most of the frolicking with very little clothing, BUT when she does wear stuff it’s Paco Rabanne and it’s AMAZING. Y’all, check out that green leotard with dangly plastic fringe and matching Robin Hood boots. Fantastic! Also, this silver sequin-y number wants you to wear it with spirit fingers and jazz hands. Aaaaarrrrgh, those silver and black boots! WANT. Barbarella was a BABE-A-RELLA and that was mostly due to Paco Rabanne’s STELLAR outfits. You can see the influence on the current collection.

Models walk the runway during the Paco Rabanne Spring 2012 Paris Fashion Week show.
Photo: WireImage


So, we know that Paco Rabanne started out as an accessories designer, and in 1969, he created a signature handbag for his line that became a bona fide SENSATION; in fact, it was the first IT BAG. Called Le 69, it featured a series of metal, rubber, or leather shapes held together by metal rings. It was a hit and has been reinvented for spring 2012 in new colors and textures like stingray and metallic suede. We love that the new collection also includes larger, more structured bags as well as INSANE SHOES. Really, look at those showstoppers on the left. Are those silver bubbles on the heels of these booties? DYING over the silver ones with silver skinny heels too. They’re feminine, cool, and look a little bit dangerous all at the same time. OH! And Paco Rabanne is HUGE on the perfume scene. His Black XS fragrance has a whole new campaign and commercial starring Iggy Pop shot by Gaga video director Jonas Akerlund.


We’re not going to lie, any time Lady Gaga wears something, we’re going to check it out. Face it, she has TASTE. It may not be yours (or a lot of other people’s), but it’s HERS and she goes for it where fashion is concerned. We appreciate that type of passionately devoted spirit, and think it says a lot that she’s generous with her fame and uses it to expose the work of lesser known artists and designers. Even though the new Paco Rabanne collection was well-received in Paris, it needed a push to get it out there to the people, to have them see the mind-blowing shapes and textures, and to also realize that it’s perfectly OK to be a little wacky ’n’ wild. We need someone like Gaga to remind us that’s it’s actually FUN to be different. Paco Rabanne (vintage and anew) reminds us of that, too.

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