Designer Paco Rabanne French

Not on view

Paco Rabanne presented his first collection, Twelve Experimental Dresses, in 1964 and followed it in 1966 with a couture collection he called Twelve Unwearable Dresses. This sculptural micromini dress, constructed of square and rectangular aluminum plates joined with metal rings, is a rare surviving example from his "unwearable" collection. With its allusion to chain mail, the dress establishes Rabanne's practice of citing historical elements in his space-age aesthetic. The innovative construction and unconventional use of material epitomize the exploratory and experimental sensibility of much 1960s avant-garde fashion.

Rabanne was born Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo in the Basque region of Spain. His mother was the head seamstress for the famed Spanish-born couturier Cristobal Balenciaga. Rabanne initially studied architecture at the école Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He began his fashion career only in the early 1960s, with a collection of large plastic accessories he sold to the couture houses. From these humble beginnings, he fashioned garments that reflected the zeitgeist of the mid-1960s. But unlike Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges, who employed traditional couture techniques for their "futuristic" designs, Rabanne was interested in creating fashion with uncharted and imaginative production methods using novel postwar industrial materials.

Dress, Paco Rabanne (French, born Spain 1934–2023), metal, French

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