Paco Rabanne was a Spanish designer who became known as "l'enfant terrible (unruly child) of the 1960s French fashion world. He began making jewellery in unusual materials for many of the French couturiers and in 1964 at the age of 30 presented his first collection. In 1966 he had his breakout show: 'Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials.' and it was with this show that he found his calling. He was quoted as saying 'sewing is a bondage,' and made his dresses out of paper, plastic and metal, which were pieced together with wire and glue. By 1968 some of the most famous women in the world were wearing his pieces and along with André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin, he helped to create the 1960s Space Age movement. Dating his pieces can be incredibly difficult but I did find a 1967 photo of Actress Noele Noblecourt wearing a dress that used strips of mirrors and a similar bead technique where they linked. Based on the information given to me by my client I believe that this dress was made in and around this time period.
The dress is absolutely incredible. The main part of the dress is made up of mirrored triangles. These are hand linked together one by one to create the shape and form that you see. The work and hours that would have went into pre-planning thee shape and figuring out how to lay out the pieces, drilling each hole and linking them together, is mind boggling. As you look closer you realize that the dress is made out of grouping of the triangles and that there is a pattern within the pattern. Each of these shaped sections are made from six triangles that have been linked together. At the centre where they all meet there is a huge crystal tear drop that has been suspended from a metal loop. He then took one of the triangles within each these six triangle clusters and wrapped a length of clear faceted beads over it. The beads have been twisted and curved over the top of that single triangle so gives the dress an even greater 3D feel that is already has. You can see on the back of the triangles that that beadwork was added with silver wire that was hand wrapped around its triangle to secure it into place. The six triangle cluster were then all linked together to form the shape of the dress that you see. To create the shoulder straps he used a linked metal chain set with large glass rhinestones. Each one is prong set within its own casement and then these are linked together by wire. The rhinestone straps are set so that they lie across the top of the front bodice, curve over the shoulders and then lie across the back. The dress skims over the body and ends in an ultra short mini length that shows miles of legs. At the back it closes with Rabanne's signature metal clips that are set to organically down the back, hidden between the triangle clusters, so that there is no apparent line down the back to break the eye. The dress comes with a matching bag that is made out of the exact same technique and has a matching rhinestone chain as its strap. Both piece are very heavy. The dress and bag combined weigh just over ten pounds. The way that this dress catches the light and the soft sound it makes when you move is extraordinary. With your slightest movement the tears drop beads move and the mirrors reflect the light. Most examples from this time period are a monochromatic silver chainmail and it is unusual and rare to find such an ornate example like this, never mind one that still has its matching bag. It is incredible and easily one of the best pieces I have ever seen in all my years doing vintage. Early examples of Rabanne's work are held mainly in museums around the globe and really ornate pieces like this rarely come to market. It is exceptional and appears to have been worn very little if at all. Excellent condition
Slips on to wear with metal clamping hinge hooks at the back. The linked together pieces give it an almost bias cut feel as far as the way it sits on the body. It is in incredible condition and appears to have never been worn or worn very little. Completely assembled by hand
Bust: approx 15-16.5" flat across from side to side
Waist: approx to 15" flat across from side to side
Hip: approx 16-18" flat across from side to side
Length: 31" from shoulder to hem
6"H x 9"W and linked flat together, It expands out because of the links. The rhinestone strap adds another 6.5" to the height of the bag
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XXS-SML
Reference Photo: Noele Noblecourt in Paco Rabanne, February 1967.
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.