Paco Rabanne designer Julien Dossena wants women to feel the love. “I want quality fashion, not parkas and sweatshirts,” he said backstage before his fall show. “I can do that and I do, and it sells a lot, but my job as a designer is doing something where you can see the love and the work.”
He broke free of the brand’s chainmail heritage to articulate his own decorative vision. “I was searching for beauty, what does glamour mean now and how can you contextualize it in a contemporary way?”
The answer was in a mix of Golden Age Hollywood and early Eighties British dandyism (Adam Ant, Roxy Music, Brian Eno and the like) with a dash of Fifties French couture fantasy. In other words, old world meets new wave.
There were plenty of reasons to want to dress up. Thirties screen siren bias-cut gowns in floral velvet or liquid silk-satin accented with jewelry-like embroideries, for one. They came with beaded cardigans, black patterned stockings and mary janes for an haute allure, or with Deco wave-patterned knits layered underneath the dresses and cowboy boots on the feet for a more contemporary cool. Bias-cut skirts were also desirable, none more so than a black-and-silver dot version with cropped black satin puff-sleeve blouse revealing a slice of midriff — and conjuring a bit of Nineties grunge to add another element to the time-traveling magic.
Dossena seems to be making a serious play for the red carpet. Case in point: couture-inspired duchesse satin gowns lengthened with trains had narrow shoulder straps and short skirts to keep the look from being too precious. A sparkling crystal net skirt layered on top of a black bodysuit twisted into a rosette at the neckline, with a slit open back edged in crystals, also cast a spell, as did a sparkling crystal dress layered over another in floral silk. They were only outdone by the bombshell silver metal mesh gown with 3-D flower at the neckline that had Rihanna’s stylist Mel Ottenberg reaching for his camera.
Not forgetting the androgynous elements he’s also been exploring in recent seasons, Dossena added decorative elements to a tuxedo coat with extra-large jeweled buttons, and clashed genres, showing a gold-embroidered military coat over leopard-patterned trousers, and romantic floral print blouse with charming silk flower cutouts at the neck. “I want to make clothes that you are thrilled to wear,” he said. Consider us smitten.