Paco Rabanne Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week

Paco Rabanne Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week

You don’t get the feeling that Julien Dossena is going through the motions at Paco Rabanne. So many young designers who are airlifted into storied fashion houses take it as an opportunity to bend the meaning of the brand to whatever their own identity may be.

Dossena, however, had a boyhood interest in science fiction—something that aligns him with the house’s futuristic, space-age heritage. In a preview conversation at his studio, he spoke about the formative influence of working his way through Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, and Dune by Frank Herbert. “It wasn’t watching movies at all,” he said. “It was what you see as you read.”

Long story short, it’s all coming good for Dossena and the way he has steadily retrofitted the controls of starship Paco Rabanne—so that now, the whole thing is navigable again. For instance, the plastic disc metal-linked chainmail Rabanne invented in the ’60s is made light and on-point relevant, as shown by Dossena. Is a full dress too much to invest in? Not to worry. There are inexpensive clear plastic droplet rings and earrings. (Little-known fact: Rabanne started out as a jewelry designer.) “It’s a way for young people to start to access the brand,” Dossena said.

And that’s the underlying and interesting part of what he’s doing at Paco Rabanne—real traction with young people, while also operating at designer-level caliber. Though it’s a small house compared to many of the behemoths, Dossena is taken seriously as the kind of designer who can navigate a credible route between conceptualism and wearable sportswear. Perhaps it has to do with the timing: that people are once again in a mood to escape, anywhere they can, from the mess humanity has made on planet Earth. Look closely and there are minimal neckpieces that suggest breathing-masks; there is an implied dystopian commentary on the present here.

On the other hand, Dossena is working with reality. It’s easy to see his nylon parkas and optic white tunics and flares (for a start) being worn on any city street. Though what keeps it all hovering above the level streetwear is Dossena’s skill in translating and honoring the fact that Paco Rabanne was once a haute couture house. He did most convincingly with two sinuous looks made from white-coated chainmail. That might be a material closely associated with Versace, but Paco Rabanne got there long before. Julien Dossena reclaimed that territory tonight.

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