Designer Paco Rabanne French

Not on view

This emblematic 1966 mini dress in iridescent plastic discs and metal jump rings by Paco Rabanne is an example of a commercial version of his 1966 haute couture collection “12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials” shown at the Hotel Georges V in Paris. These dresses were made from plastics and metal, worn over the naked body without any shoes. The collection was a striking 1960s fashion statement, bolstering both a futurist aesthetic as well as an avant-garde artistic maxim, which was to use found objects and materials such as rhodoïd and other plastics, previously not regarded as materials worthy of being used in haute couture garments. These related to the Dada and Panique movements in art, which Rabanne favored as a young man.
With its allusion to chain mail, the dress epitomizes Rabanne's practice of citing historical elements in a space-age aesthetic. The innovative construction and unconventional use of industrial material characterize the exploratory, experimental sensibility of much 1960s avant-garde fashion.
Rabanne, sometimes nicknamed the “Jules Verne” of couture, was born Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo in the Basque region of Spain. His mother was the head seamstress for the famed Spanish-born couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. Initially studying architecture, he began his fashion career only in the early 1960s, with a collection of large plastic accessories he sold to couture houses like Balenciaga, Cardin and Courrèges.

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

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