There are not 12 Unwearable Dresses in this post. There are maybe 3. I just thought it appropriate to use the title from the first fashion show of Spanish designer Paco Rabanne who, in 1966, entitled it “12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials.” I was unable to find photos that showed all of the dresses on display at that ground-breaking show, but I did discover some really interesting photos and information during my search.
In an age of Lady Gaga and Oscar dresses made out of credit cards it was surprising to discover that Rabanne was the first fashion designer to utilize unconventional materials like metal, plastic, leather, and paper in clothing. Of these, his metal dresses were the most famous and became the most iconic. In order to create these dresses he would build the ‘fabric’ right on the body of the model, molding it to her shape causing Coco Chanel to comment “He’s not a couture, he’s a metal worker.” By 1968, you could buy your own kit to make a Rabanne-like dress.
Rabanne designed for some 30 years and became equally well known for his perfumes. He stopped designing in 1999, though the House of Rabanne remains despite some issues finding a creative director that works well for the brand.
After the jump we feature some of his designs from this early period as well as a couple shots of his design work from the 1967 camp classic, Barbarella, and Autumn 2013/2014 Ready-To-Wear show.