Julien Dossena re-energises Rabanne, bringing its space age heritage back to earth by reworking its codes for a new era
Paco Rabanne’s pace has sped up and reached modernity thanks to Julien Dossena. This season he played hard and fast with the house codes to inject a sense of reality into Rabanne’s space-age heritage. Cropped bomber jackets dramatically flared out whilst leather jackets bounced about. Hoodies printed with surburbia postcard prints were mixed nonchalantly with mini silver chainmail skirts. Nylon transparencies whispered sportswear without being too literal – especially when layered to create a new take on jeans. Punk-like straps flailed about dresses, controlling and freeing the body at once, as models throttled past in perspex wedged boots to Hot Chip's “Huarache Lights” – Dossena's re-energised Rabanne has risen and was in full swing.
Dossena has thus far shied away from the literal archives of Paco Rabanne, so when new iterations of these (such as the iconic chain link dress) appeared, they were a surprise, especially when rendered in transparent plastic. Back in 1966 when worn by the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Françoise Hardy, these linked up pieces of plastic and metal were heavy objects which left the body bare underneath. The designer lightened the load of these dresses by adding a ribbed knit under-layer for extra wearability and paired them with oversized coats. “They’re light and accessible at the same time – with technical knits. The idea is to make things as aerated and easy as possible,” said Dossena. The cut up plastic made up into geometric formations also appeared on hipster knit trousers. The new Paco Rabanne chainmail is a far cry from Barbarella's heavy metal.
London designers have long-loved an ironic play on the sportswear obsessed, label-addicted “chav” or “townie” trope. It’s interesting then that a Frenchman like Dossena brought his own take on the French equivalent – or characters seen in films like La Haine. The adidas tracksuit top for instance was dissected, made transparent in parts and converted into evening dresses for a sensual take on a sportswear classic.
The soundtrack to Paco Rabanne AW15: