She-popes, knights in shining chain mail fringe and Joan of Arc gone grunge. These were the magical creatures Julien Dossena conjured with his fall Paco Rabanne collection, a ceremony of powerful chic at the storied Conciergerie.
Steeped in historicism but with modern cool, it was celebration of radical craft, contrasting lightness and darkness, austerity and ornamentation, and taking inspiration (like several other collections this season), from religious vestments, but filtered through a very Paco lens.
Harnessing some impressive workmanship, Dossena mastered all the elements, from military-influenced glossy leather tailoring to ethereal chiffon volume dresses with a baptismal bent, embroidered in metallic thread “creating a halo around the girl,” he said poetically. He breathed new life into the house chain mail, showing total metal mesh looks, fringed and hooded, jingling as the models processed through the medieval hall where guillotines fell during the French Revolution. (Pick it all apart, though, and there was a lot to wear, including fringed chain mail shawls, capelets, hoods, crop tops that would go great with jeans, and ankle grazing, jingling skirts.)
Tailoring had a military vibe, with delicate floral embroideries bordering an officer coat, and pure white papal lace softening a pleasingly prim black pantsuit. Tapestry patterned draped and knitted fringe dresses added a haute bohemian touch, while white lace and clear sequin embroidery dresses made for ethereal creations.
Ornamental bibs and collars were compelling accessories throughout. After a monk’s scapular perhaps, a black leather dickie worn over a gray turtleneck and red sequin diva dress looked like a must-have, for example. And glam rock platform or rugged combat boots grounded it all in the here and now.
Dossena may not be religious himself (“I can really understand it though — until it becomes political,” he said) but he made fashion believers out of all of us.