The Past and Future Collide at Paco Rabanne Fall/Winter 2023
Dubbed the ‘Couturier of the Space Age’, Spanish designer Paco Rabanne’s death earlier this year brought his legacy to a new generation of fashion devotees. While it has roared back in relevance since Julien Dossena assumed the helm in 2013, the house founder’s passing served as a distinct reminder of how a brand can effectively birth and maintain strongly identifiable codes.
In 1966, when Rabanne’s ‘Manifesto: 12 unwearable dresses in contemporary materials collection', made from unconventional textiles like paper, plastic, and metal was launched, humankind was three years away from walking on the moon. The race to space consumed interest around the globe, and Rabanne found a unique way to carve a futuristic fashion identity from unsuspecting substances found right here on Earth. Soon, the brand became known for its chainmail dresses, cementing its pop-culture status through costumes for Casino Royale, Two for the Road starring Audrey Hepburn, and Barbarella starring Jane Fonda. Since then, Dossena has expanded the language of the house to include amplified textures, vibrant prints, and a cool, youthful attitude.
At Paco Rabanne Fall/Winter 2023, we awaited an homage, but it didn’t come until the end. However, what arrived before the emotional finale of five reimagined archival looks (each more stunning than the last), was an excellent, directional, and instantly desirable collection. Beginning with easeful knits, Lurex separates, fur-trimmed coats, and fuzzy dresses, Dossena leaned on wearability and daytime dressing. This was even true of several magnificent Lurex dresses that wouldn’t be out of place on the red carpet, except he paired them with regular sneakers – a bit of high and low. Entering eveningwear territory, the show served up floral printed dresses, a royal blue slip dress intersected with crimson lace accents, Lycra crop tops with bustier detailing and long matching skirts, followed by other versions with more inventive construction and crystal embellishment details.
Dossena has expanded the language of the house to include amplified textures, vibrant prints, and a cool, youthful attitude.
When exploring the house’s heritage, Dossena landed on the relationship between Paco Rabanne and Salvador Dalí, “two Spanish visionaries linked by their radical artistic expression,” as the show notes put it. This association was responsible for a series of beautiful dresses printed with Dalí paintings, created with participation from the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí.
Finally, it was the moment we were waiting for. The dénouement saw a warm-up to its finale in the form of sharp metal fringed dresses; we loved the golden one worn by model Nora Attal in particular. Then the archival arrangement appeared, dripping with crystals, metal mesh, and chains, reminding us of how keenly fashion’s past continues to inform its future.