In this era of heritage brand revivals, we talk a lot about updating house codes. It’s trickier than it sounds: Plenty of designers find themselves trapped by the past. Julien Dossena of Paco Rabanne is not one of them. Today’s show was his third for the Puig-owned label, and he just keeps getting better. His predecessors’ collections were often drowning in chain mail—the most obvious of Paco-isms. Dossena didn’t even turn his attention to the subject until two-thirds of the way through this lineup. Painted white or black instead of flashy metallic colors and suspended asymmetrically from cotton harnesses, the shifts were quite complicated in their construction—”super-worked” is how Dossena described them—yet in attitude they were young and sporty. That’s no easy feat, but it’s a quality that defined the designer’s Spring collection from start to finish.
The athletic vibes kicked in right away with dresses modeled on bathing suits. Think Olympic swimming pool, not Saint-Tropez, with color-blocking, contrast piping, daring cutouts, and skirts draped diagonally across the hips, exposing the pelvic bone on one side. They’ll require a phenomenal body to pull off, just as Rabanne’s did back in the day: 21st-century Jane Birkins and Françoise Hardys only. But mixed in were crisp poplin shirts that peplumed over racer-stripe leggings, and graphic knit jerseys worn with slightly oversize men’s trousers that channeled the same peppy mood. Most accomplished of all were the black tank dresses that descended into tendrils of fringe, some of which were studded with silver cabochons—’60s-ish in their inspiration but thoroughly modern in execution. Job well done.