Paris Fashion Week has so far brought one major surprise: iconic brands from the '60s previously pigeonholed in the "Space Age" fashion category are making a stronger impact than other more established fashion houses, thanks to young creative directors successfully liberating them from the constraints of time.
In yesterday's post we had a look at Courrèges according to Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant; let's move today onto Paco Rabanne, where Julien Dossena, the brand's creative director since 2013, opted for a dynamic and well-edited show.
Models came out two or three at a time and the collection opened with ribbed knitwear designs in solid shades such as bottle-green or nuances of neutral sand.
Asymmetrical tubular knitted skirts were contructed in panels and matched with tops dropped from one shoulder. The offer also included a sober green pair of tapered knit trousers that shifted the attention on practicality. The designs in this section of the show looked wearable, delicate and cozy, but above all destined to a wide range of consumers from different age groups.
These looks were inspired by blanket wraps from the '80s, but then Dossena moved onto metallics borrowed from dance costumes from the same decade of excess.
Sci-fi was mixed with this dance inspiration, but in a measured and balanced way: there were silver, gold and black fine chainmail dresses draped into asymmetric flowing skirts and sensual tops that left the shoulders bare or revealed the models' midriffs.
Though echoing Rabanne's original rigid metal shells, these designs didn't have much in common with them as the garments looked fluid and soft, calling at times to mind Versace's pliable oroton (a material that has been making a comeback recently on different A/W 17 runways).
Some of the silver pieces were sliced and revealed a white and blue motif underneath; a pair of leg-lengthening silvery trousers matched with a streamlined top seemed the perfect Space Age uniform without looking like a costume from a kitsch '60s sci-fi film, while sporty elements punctuated the collection here and there, even though athleisure was laid to rest in favour of urban looks with an everyday appeal. The outerwear offer was also consistent with white cropped jackest and black overcoats with metallic details.
Paco Rabanne's signature metal-linked chainmail was reinvented in the final slipdresses made with gray tailoring fabric cut into squares and linked with hardware, a trick Dossena used with a decorative purpose in mind, in a collection that was otherwised stripped of all sorts of evident embellishments.
A touch of eccentricity was scattered through the accessories, though: thick-soled loafers in brights shades such as orange and green or in metallic shades and pouch bags with a base replicating the house logo or romantic hearts, accompanied some of the looks.
With this collection Dossena tried to detach the brand from the original 1966 collection that featured the infamous "Twelve Unwearable Dresses" that won Paco Rabanne the title of "metallurgist of fashion" from Coco Chanel.
Yet there is a lesson here to be learnt: Dossena has been trying to develop consistent collections for a few seasons now, maturing with them and so far he has been given the time to do it (hopefully, the same thing will happen to Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant at Courrèges). In many ways this proves that the endless games of musical chairs at various houses and labels have just damaged the fashion industry, while the best solution would be giving time and space to designers to grow up through smaller, focused and coherently edited collections.