Paco Rabanne, 1981

Top: Paco Rabanne’s 1981 campaign. Middle and Bottom: A 1981 L’Officiel editorial.

Paco Rabanne was known for his futurist expressions in material throughout the 1960’s, using chain link and metalwork; new takes on medieval fabrications, to pursue a new direction for future couture. And in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Rabanne’s interest in embellishment and metal craft rested with an interest in ethnic and world dress, expressing a different future: not to be found among the stars but within the ancient civilizations who might have looked up to them as gods. 

It’s this unique and rarely considered quality of Paco Rabanne that could be keenly applied to designer Manish Arora’s efforts as he takes on the job of resuscitating the Space Age institution. Since 1997, the Indian designer has tapped into the textile tradition of his home country pushing forward a new aesthetic, one just as wildly humorous and universal as the Franco-Spanish couturier’s. But as spectacular as our ideas of Rabanne may be, it’s prudent to remember that his Space Age fantasies, no matter how over the top, meant nothing if they could not be made into a reality.

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