They might as well charter a plane to L.A. now because Wednesday’s Paco Rabanne collection was red carpet gold, from a group of gowns made in collaboration with the Salvador Dali Foundation, honoring the late founder’s friendship with the Surrealist artist, to a retrospective capsule of five of his most iconic designs.
The crowd swelled outside Paris’ Musée d’Art Moderne, where fans took over the sidewalk and street in anticipation of the first Paco Rabanne runway show since the brand’s namesake died Feb. 3.
The venue itself was a reminder of how Rabanne’s use of unconventional materials such as paper, plastic and metal transcended fashion to be avant garde art in the 1960s.
Inside, Jean Paul Gaultier and French singer Amanda Lear, who modeled for Rabanne and was a muse to Dali, sat front row along with Nicolas Ghesquière.
On each seat, creative director Julien Dossena left a card saying, “Thank you Monsieur Rabanne,” praising the Space Age creator’s “utopic creative approach,” and “radical engagement” which changed “our view of the world.”
Rabanne famously dressed Jane Fonda in the 1968 film “Barbarella” and Audrey Hepburn in 1967’s “Two for the Road,” and Dossena has been carrying on the brand’s Hollywood legacy in his own way, by dressing Cardi B in a chain mail face mask and gown for the Grammys stage, Adele in a fringed black velvet gown for her Las Vegas residency, and Marisa Tomei in a colorful geometric chain mail dress at the Berlin Film Festival.
“Now that we have been working a long time, the stylists come to us and want custom pieces, and it’s interesting to help artists for a concert, because it has a function,” said Dossena, who has been with the brand since 2013. “Adele was great, and there are some others coming later; it’s a nice moment between collections.”
Although Dossena was working on the fall collection before Rabanne died, as always the starting point was his work with materials, in this case, furry alpaca. Made into snugly tailored trousers and sweaters sculpted into a bow in front, in chocolate brown or baby blue, and worn with a chunky hardware belt and sneakers, they looked like the next ‘It’ girl uniform.
And in a season of quite a few slim, tailored maxi coats, Dossena’s black alpaca version with sculptural gold buttons was a standout. But that’s really where the daywear ended.
The designer’s primary focus seemed to be on whipping up one outstanding evening look after another, from a gold sequin crop turtleneck anchored by a jeweled heart, topping a swishy drop-waist skirt, to a Dali rose-and-blue sky-print gown meant to look as if a painting had been cut up and put back together with chain mail hardware. Talk about a dream dress.
Dresses shimmered with sequin feathers, hugged the body with sculpted metal bras inspired by ornate cutlery, and gleamed with mousseline-covered mesh and ice cube-like crystals. Others were made of leather that appeared to melt into embroidery and studs.
Clearly, 10 years in, Dossena is still inspired.
“You can dig and dig and there’s always another side to explore,” he said of his role at Rabanne. “He was driven only by his authenticity of desire. His curiosity was endless, you can tell through his work and his vision of the world.”