It’s been less than six months since the passing of visionary designer Paco Rabanne, but his influence continues to permeate every fabric of today’s trends. Since establishing his own fashion house in the 1960s, Rabanne has been at the forefront of futurism, redefining the depths of haute couture with his innovative use of materials like metal and plastic. He was also a co-creator of the 1960s Space Age movement along with designers Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges. Rabanne was never one to look to the past. In 1997, during a show of his futurist perspective, he told a reporter he wouldn’t be playing Mozart. “Mozart is dead,” he said. “He is dead and buried. Two-three hundred years have passed already. It’s time to represent today’s mood with today’s music.”
But in a sense of irony, we’re still trying to catch up to Rabanne’s greatness decades later. One year that sticks out, in particular, is 1997. By then, the Spanish designer was already a legendary figure in the fashion community, yet he continually attempted to push the boundaries. The belly-baring cutouts, ultra low-rise pants, and sultry chainlink bras of Rabanne’s S/S 97 collection look like they jumped directly out of a 2023 lookbook. This runway history is also well-preserved on Youtube, where Rabanne’s most talked about collections are graciously uploaded onto the platform. Speaking on the 1997 collection, Rabanne said, “What I’m trying to do is make dresses for the year 2000. We’re only three years from 2000, but I refuse to fo clothes from the 90s, which I’ve seen from certain collections this week.”
By now, it’s basically a law that everything in fashion has a way of boomeranging back around, but this collection shows that sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. And it’s true. I find myself constantly looking through this Rabanne collection as it feels so salient today with the influx of flesh-exposing designs that incorporate elements of seduction. It’s clear his work still defines and influences modern seasons.