Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo was born in 1934 in the Basque country of Spain to the head seamstress at Balenciaga. Mom & son fled the Spanish Civil War in 1939 and landed in France, at which point he became Paco Rabanne.
Although he studied architecture - at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts - Rabanne created costume jewelry for the great couture houses of the day: Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, Philippe Venet, Pierre Cardin, Courrege, Givenchy. His first collection (1966) provocatively titled "12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials" was an artistic expression of rhodoid sequins and plaques aplenty, and his calling card on the world fashion scene, where he became known for his one-off pieces handmade from recycled and unusual materials, including hammered metal, knitted fur, aluminium jersey, paper, fiber glass and fluorescent leather.
In 1971, the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture admitted him as a member. After more than three decades of out-of-the-box (and, sometimes, made from it) designs, he retired in 1999.
Starting with Spring 2012, Manish Arora was brought in for what ended up as a short two season stint, premiering his first collection - above - which looked more like it belonged on the runway across town at Mugler (during the reign of Thierry). Critical response was mixed and sales said to be a "glorious failure". Fall 2012 (below) was much more overtly wearable (and salable) and was apparently created under the eye of the maison's studio director, Lydia Maurer. A graduate of the Studio Bercot design school in Paris, she previously worked at Givenchy & YSL and even helped Martine Sitbon with the develop & launch of her line Rue due Mail.
After parting ways with Arora, the corporate overlords at the PUIG Group promoted Maurer to the head of Womens Ready-to-Wear. She will be presenting her first collection, Spring 2013, during Fall '12 Fashion Week in Paris.
“I am very impressed by the creative power of Paco Rabanne, a House that from the very start strips out all conventions, using, among other things, an assemblage of unexpected materials, " says Maurer. "A creative approach based on both technology and craftsmanship, resulting in a fashion that is instinctive and playful. It is a great honor to be taking on the artistic direction of such an emblematic house at the heart of Parisian creation. Monsieur Rabanne created his clothing as a means of expressing the singularity of each woman. He invented a timeless, unique and sensual style inspired by art and architecture. This is the ongoing creative spirit that I wish to convey in my work for the House."
- Lesley Scott