“We just wanted this super-genuine feeling of wanting the sun on your skin. Of being by the sea, and feeling the warmth and the happiness of it,” Julien Dossena said of his spring-summer 2022 collection for Paco Rabanne. “Because all of those pleasures are what we’ve all been craving for so long. So I thought, let’s just go with it, and have fun with it.” Last week, he and the Paco Rabanne team were vividly capturing all those sybaritic sun-worshipping impulses atop the spectacularly-tiled hexagonal geometric Op Art Hexa Grace installation in Monaco. It made for a brilliantly-chosen platform for showcasing all of the glinting, sinuous glamour of the French jet-set “bohemian ’70s vibe” that he’s re-channeling for 21st century would-be hedonists of the post-pandemic world. Under the baking heat of the Mediterranean sun, out strode a collection Dossena aptly described as “compositions” or “assemblages” that were melded into silhouettes of dresses and skirts over flared trousers, all-over wallpaper and pansy prints, sarongs and scarf belts, and all kinds of inventive ways of reinventing the chainmail and metallic paillettes and sequins that made up Paco Rabanne’s identity in the first place. Amongst all of it was a print collaboration with the Victor Vasarely Foundation, the holder of the legacy of the artist who designed the Monte Carlo public art installation in 1979. “It felt culturally linked to Paco Rabanne” to do that, the designer remarked. Yet cleverly, Dossena’s knack for design takes clothes somewhere that’s never retro. In orchestrating his collections, he does things like wraps chains into necklines and around hips, adds asymmetric lashings of fringe, and knots and drapes crop-tops to reveal skin in ways that never happened in the 1970s. When he comes to quoting Vasarely’s Op Art, his print placement of the original’s circles and 3D illusion grids are set to flatter the body, mathematically graduated to narrow into waists. Besides, bucket hats were never the thing in the ’70s; they are now, but worked by Dossena into his ‘total print’ top-to-toe looks they’ve picked up a fresh sense of sophistication. Season on season, his instincts are steadily taking Paco Rabanne the brand to the place in the sun it rightfully deserves in the constellation of contemporary fashion.
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.