Rabanne

Paco (1934). French designer. Born in San SebastiÄn in Spain. Endowed with an almost magical ability to see into the future, Francisco y Cuervo (his real name), the son of a republican general who was executed by a Francoist firing squad, used pliers instead of needle and thread and metal in place of cloth, creating futuristic fashions that unleashed furious controversies. The year was 1965. From her throne, Chanel launched scandalized cries of dismay: “This is not a couturier, this is a metallurgist.” Young Paco preserved his sang-froid and continued with his daring and provocative experiments; in any case his work shook the foundations of the structure of haute couture, unmovable in its stubborn traditions. He engaged in a succession of innovative investigations into the world of materials. He used aluminum, one of his emblematic metals, for a panel-bedecked mini-dress that seemed to foreshadow the Space Age, and which was one of the most widely photographed fashion items of 1968. This was truly the precursor of a revolutionary concept, and Salvador DalÕ said of him, in an opinion that sharply differed with Chanel’s: “He is Spain’s second-greatest genius, after me.” Metal, but not only metal: the outfit that he created out of little plastic disks, and worn by Audrey Hepburn in a movie, wound up in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. He decided to devote his life to fashion after attending, in Paris (where he had arrived as a child, after leaving Barcelona to rejoin his mother, who had been forced to leave Spain as a refugee) the School of Fine Arts with plans to become an architect: a useful point of departure because it was here that he received an education that embraced the latest developments in all the artistic and intellectual disciplines of the period, the late Fifties and early Sixties, a period that was a testing ground for all sorts of different forms of new media of expression. Pop Art, new kinds of music, neon or wire sculpture, and plastic design began to exert their influence upon him. He supported himself during his studies by making accessories for the most important fashion ateliers: and this served him as a ticket into the world of fashion, a subject that was already familiar to him through his mother, chief seamstress for the great Balenciaga. In 1964, he made the leap and went into business for himself, presenting a collection that consecrated his courageous avant-garde approach. His new collection was greeted with admiration but also shock, because the presentation featured black fashion models, who had never before appeared in the history of haute couture. Aside from his beloved aluminum and plastic, he made use of pleated and silvery paper for a new phalanx of metropolitan Barbarellas. With the passing years, he ushered in other materials: fluorescent leather, metallic jersey and taffeta, outfits made of plexiglas and fiber-optics, and occasionally studded with reflective disks. By this point he was dressing princesses, actresses, and matrons whose names were best known in the stock exchanges of the world, happily decked out as Bond-girls. The Chambre Syndicale could no longer afford to ignore him and, after having forced him to linger in the waiting room for a number of years, finally inducted him with all due honors. The year was 1971. He was even inducted into the Who’s Who, the prestigious listing of international celebrities, as well as the Encyclopaedia Britannica. With the passing years and with technological progress, the shaped and assembled sheets of metal, once rigid and weighty, became increasingly elastic and weightless: this led to the creation of aluminum jersey, which had the look and feel of real. It was the development of hi-tech that allowed incredible virtuoso accomplishments, capable for instance of transforming metals into exquisite pieces of lace. A dream factory that truly created thrilling excitement worthy of the end of the millennium: the restult was an amusing setting in which incredible materials shamelessly enveloped cyberwomen, brave warriors of the New Look. Unleashed fantasy: outfits made of tin, copper, and imitation leather. He knitted furs, and stitched the feathers on a cape with adhesive tape. He happily put together materials with irreverent whimsy: fine lace with plastic, lamé with chrome-plated steel mesh, paper, and tulle. He made wedding dresses that caressed the bride with rectangles of opalescent rhodoid, evening gowns that featured an explosion of extremely thin plastic tubes. Skimpy outfits were borrowed from the field of costume jewelry, featuring glass paste and sequins, sheaths made of semi-precious stones, carved strapless bras. And what about the hair? Plexiglas antennae, articulated metal helments, fountain sprays of aluminum, and iridescent paper turbans. The shoes, too, were raised on metal structures, with ballerinas dancing in an astral production of Giselle. Sirens from across the galaxy wearing looks far ahead of their times, silver and white, embellished with icy or iridescent hues. Every runway presentation was an authentic “space odyssey.” Intriguingly worked surfaces refracted light and shot out cosmic sheens and glows. The 1991 metal-mesh bathing suit transformed Naomi Campbell into an android. Rabanne’s fashion stimulated a consideration: this designer was the instigator of a concept of clothing that formed part of the artistic, technical, and sociological trends of an era. An era in which he chose to create in the present, taking inspiration from the future. He won a broad array of awards, including the Dé d’Or. He produced his first men’s collection in 1976. Then he went on to create perfumes, naturally marketed in bottles made of recycled aluminum. He was constantly looking to the future, theorizing a simplified form a apparel that was more in keeping with humanity’s nature’s biorhythms. In so doing, he returned to his idea of moulded, biodegradable clothing. In 1986 his fashion house was purchased by the Spanish group, PVIG. During the Paris fashion week, in July 1999, he announced his retirement. In 1991, the French publisher Laffont brought out his book Trajectoire d’une vie à l’autre.
&Quad;1999. He published Le Feu du Ciel, a book that he had written with equal proportions of pessimism and optimism that added up to his vision of the world. He produced a brand new fragrance which he named Ultraviolet and which he marketed in a small, violet-colored, spherical bottle.
&Quad;2000. His unisex line, Paco, ceased production, to keep with the general trend toward mainstream fashion of the house.

Racamier

Henry (1912-2002). French businessman. He began his career working in the steel business, and enjoyed great success. At the age of 65 he sold his company and focused on the Louis Vuitton company which was entrusted to his direction by the owners, who were related to him through marriage. He transformed the company from a small, elite, artisanal operation (producing trunks, bags bags and valigie) into a universal status symbol griffe. In the 1990s, the rising influence of the new partner Bernard Arnault obliged him to leave the Vuitton company. But he did not retire. He created the Orcofi group, which would in time become a new player in the luxury business. It purchased Lanvin, Philippe Model, Daum, and Andrelux and introduced the Inés de La Fressange griffe.
&Quad;2002. He died at the age of 90 of a heart attack, while traveling to Sardinia. He was survived by his wife and his twin daughters Caroline Bentz and Laurence Fontaine.

Radaelli

Textile manufacturer with plants in the Lecco area. The founder was Alfredo Radaelli, who had studied at the school of silk manufacturing (Scuola di Setificio) in Como, and had deepened his experience working around Europe, in Germany and France. In 1893, in the plant located in Rancio, near Lecco, the Radaelli Finzi Perrier company began to manufacture velvets. In 1911, after opening a dyeing plant in Lecco, the company inaugurated a new plant in Mandello del Lario, equipped with looms and facilities for finishing fabrics. In the same years, the company expanded its line of production of velvets for items of women’s apparel to include fabrics for furnishing and upholstery, supported by contracts for the Italian state railroad company. While 1919 was the year of “outstanding sales,” 1927 was the first year that the company operated at a loss, a product of both the general crisis in the industry, and the increasingly ferocious internal competition. This phase of uncertainty extended into the 1930s, when the company began to encounter logistical difficulties in obtaining high quality raw material. In 1936, the company began to export products to the United States. In the 1950s, the company founded a throwing mill, and began to work on experimental basis with synthetic fibers. The 1960s witnessed a period of crisis due to problems with internal management. In 1976 the shares of TEPF, the holding company based around the throwing mill, were sold. The company entered the 1980s with a cautious trend toward revival, and that trend strengthened with the company’s entry into the field of Parisian high fashion and the popularity of the catalogue of printed velvets for women’s apparel. The last decade of the twentieth century began with the largest profit in the company’s history, due largely to the sales of middle- to high-quality velvets for women’s apparel and for home furnishings.

Raffaelli

Lucia (1941-1999). Bolognese fashion model and journalist. In the 1960s she worked as a model for Grazia. After the birth of her first child, she began to work journalism. In September 1969 she was hired by the Condé Nast group as an editor, and before long she became a deputy editor. She worked there until 1992.

Raffia

Plant fiber used in weaving, obtained by crushing and processing the leaves of a palm tree that grows in the tropics.

Raglan

Method of cutting and stitching sleeves, which are joined to the body of a coat or outfit with a diagonal stitch from the base of the neck to the armpit. The name is taken from Lord Raglan (1788-1855), British commander in chief during the Crimean War.

Raincoat

More than a clothing piece, an element of style, especially in the world of cinema. It identifies typologies of men, situations, and emotions. In the collective imagery, it’s worn by action men: detective or gangsters. But it also appears on the arm of British and American gentlemen. It is often used to shroud the silhouettes of secretaries and starlets who, during the film, turn into stars and heroines. Its simplicity and plain character means it does not distract from the face of its wearer, even if buttoned right up or the collar is turned up, for example, on Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. But also Michèle Morgan, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe, who created a different type of woman when wearing a raincoat. It is also standard wear an entire gallery of policemen, detectives, and police chiefs: from Maigret to Inspector Clouseau, Kojak and, ironically, Columbo. The raincoat, a garment present in men’s and women’s wardrobes, was born towards the end of the 19th century. Like all clothing items, it follows the rules of fashion, and, though keeping its basic characteristics, it varies in width, length, materials, and colors according to the moment. Through the years it has become identified with particular brands and styles: Barbour, Burberry, gabardine, the trench-coat, Mackintosh, Ciré and K-Way.