Exit wacko Paco

TEARS were shed in the world of fashion when self-proclaimed designer from outer space Paco Rabanne took his bows at his last ever haute couture collection in Paris yesterday.

For his swan song, the man who made his name using paper, plastic, and even metal in place of fabrics, was on typically exuberant form. Models strode down the mirrored catwalk in everything from space-age metallic leather harlequin coats and trompe l'oeil chain mail to fibre optic fringed mini-dresses and more constructed entirely out of wire and gleaming metal discs: they looked like satellites in orbit.

Rabanne, 60 - famous in the UK for his best-selling aftershave and in France for his spaced-out views - claims that the Russian Mir space station will crash land and wipe out Paris at 11.22 am on 11 August - so he is off. "Only a mad man would go anywhere near Paris when Mir comes down," he said. "It will wreak total devastation and thousands will die."

This is the latest in a series of bizarre proclamations. He once said: "I travelled to Earth from the planet Altair, to organise civilisation on this planet, 78,000 years ago." His past lives include that of an Egyptian priest responsible for the murder of King Tutankhamun, a torturer for the Inquisition and an 18th-century courtesan.

Rabanne was born Francisco de Rabaneda-Cuervo in San Sebastian, Spain, but his family moved to France. As an architecture student he supported himself by designing bold plastic jewellery and buttons which caught the attention of Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. In 1964, he made his first metal dress. By the end of the decade, the young Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor were among his clients.

Yesterday, Rabanne emerged at the end of his show to take his final bows, beaming in denim shirt and jeans. Strangely, he showed no sign of concern over the French fashion capital's impending doom.

The End of the World is Thigh: Spanish-born fashion designer Paco Rabanne believes that Russia's Mir space station will crash on Paris on 11 August during the solar eclipse and wipe out his adopted city, as predicted 400 years ago by Nostradamus. Rabanne is not sticking around to find out whether the prophesy comes true or not, but, looking on the bright side, he has designed a metallic `satellite dress' to mark the occasion. It was part of his final Autumn collection on show in Paris yesterday. ERIC GAILLARD/REUTERS

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