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Behind the scents: Paco Rabanne - SCENTS Blog

Behind the scents: Paco Rabanne


Words: Emily Venables


If you were asked about the latest fragrance from Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo, you’d be forgiven for not having a clue who we were talking about. But, it is in fact the real name of legendary fashion powerhouse Paco Rabanne.


As part of our ‘Behind the Scents series’ we’re taking a closer look at ‘the unruly child’ of the French fashion world, as he was so affectionately known, and the sensational Paco Rabanne fragrance collection.

The Origins

Born in Spain in 1934, Rabanne had a turbulent upbringing with his father, a Republican Colonel, being executed during the Spanish Civil War, which meant he had to flee Spain with his mother, a former chief seamstress for Balenciaga in Spain. They ran to France, which is where Rabanne would find his feet as a revolutionary fashion designer in later life.

Paco Rabanne perfumed called Black XS on a gold background

After finished university, where he studied architecture, he began his working career designing costume jewellery for the like of Nina Ricci, Dior and Givenchy… a pretty good starting ground! This experience paved the way for the launch of his very own fashion house, Paco Rabanne, in 1966.


He gained a reputation in the fashion world as a bit of a revolutionist, due to designing clothes with hard-wearing materials, which he join together with links and chains -  very racy!


Not content with just astounding the fashion industry, Rabanne soon set his eyes on to fragrances and the rest they say, is history.

Into the world of Fragrances

His foray into fragrances began with the launch of ‘Calandre’, in 1969, which is still available today. It was considered beyond its years, with racy and evocative connotations -  just like his fashion collections - that shook the scent world!


Fast forward to today and Rabanne continues to make a statement with each launch including the world-renowned ‘1 Million’ range, 'Pure' and ‘Black XS’ which embodies rebellion, ‘Olmypea’ which conveys the idea of a modern-day Aphrodite and lastly, ‘Invictus’, which screams ‘I’m ready to play!’.

Black XS night

 5 things you may not know about Paco Rabanne

  1. Rabanne’s fashion shows were not without their controversy. To launch a swimwear collection, he used dancers from the Crazy House Saloon to perform a strip tease on the catwalk.
  2. He was also one of the first designers to use black models in his fashion shows. A move which was almost unheard of in the 60s.
  3. His first collection, called 'Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials', featured the first of his many plastic dresses.
  4. Rabanne wrote a book called ‘Has the Countdown Begun? Through Darkness to Enlightenment’ drawing on his religious and spiritual beliefs.
  5. In 2005, when Rabanne was 72 years old, he put his drawings on display for the first time, admitting he has only ever shown them to Salvador Dali in over 30 years.

Discover Paco Robanne

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