HE’s the Spanish designer that helped define the swinging sixties, dressing the likes of Françoise Hardy, Elizabeth Taylor and even created the iconic Barbarella costume for Jane Fonda.  

And after years as Spain’s top fashion master, Paco Rabanne turned 87 in style yesterday (February 18). 

Born in 1934 in the Basque town of Pasajes, Paco family escape to Paris after his father, a Republican Colonel, was executed by Franco’s troops during the Spanish Civil War. 

Paco’s mother, who worked a a chief seamstress at Cristiobal Balenciaga’s first couture house in Donostia, later assisted Balenciaga when he opened first store in the French capital in 1937. 

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Young Paco followed in his mum’s fashion footsteps, making his money as a sketcher for Dior and Givenchy while studying architecture at  l’École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. 

He later created jewellery for the brands before opening his own eponymous fashion house in 1966 where he quickly became known for his elaborate forward thinking fashion using materials such as metal and plastic. 

At first he was dismissed by the fashion crowd, grande dame of couture Coco Chanel even once brushed off the young Spanish newcomer as simply “a metalworker”.

But soon he was the name of every fashionistas lips – and hips – and today the brand remains one of the most popular in the world. 

From clothes to accessories and scents, the Paco Rabanne brand is instantly recognisable across the  globe including 1 Million scent, which has been the UK’s No 1 male fragrance for the best part of a decade. 

Though Paco stepped down as his brand’s creative director in 1999,  most recently passing the reigns to Julien Dossen, he remains Spain’s most legendary fashion designer. 

Happy birthday Paco! 

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