Paco Rabanne Resort 2023

“Paco Rabanne’s always about a kind of celebration spirit.” So said Julien Dossena, opening a conversation about his cruise collection over Zoom from Paris. The fantasy fun times Dossena draws on always seem to hover somewhere between the decades of the 1960s and 1980s, intercut with contemporary 2020s young French-girl twists of styling, of course.

The reference behind this particular collection—which is obviously one of those in-between ones that continue and confirm a brand’s identity—was a 1968 comedy starring Peter Sellers. That explains, if explanation gets us anywhere, some of the glittery mini-midi-maxi silhouettes and the faked backdrop set. Dossena related how he stumbled upon The Party for the first time. “It’s really funny and aesthetically really interesting because it’s all set in a kind of LA film producer’s house in Hollywood in the ’60s, a crowded party with a lot of different looks and attitudes that was super interesting to work on—to get to that celebration spirit in a way that could be a little bit off in the proportions.”

Really, though, Dossena was more focused on putting forth “direct, easy, accessible” clothes. (Just as well, because the now-obscure Blake Edwards comedy hinges on its clutzy star playing in brownface, pretending to be Hrundi V. Bakshi, an accident-prone ‘Indian’ actor. Hardly producible today, although Wikipedia notes that the movie was popular in India at the time.) For Dossena, the cusp-of the ’70s party theme provided an ideal landscape for his lurex knits—slit maxi-tube skirts and matching bras—and his playful riffs on the Paco Rabanne house heritage of paillettes, sequins, and chainmail that he’s so successfully brought up to date.

Zooming in on the pictures, Dossena described a tiny silver sequin dress with an abbreviated peplum as an “Edie Sedgwick mini dress with an explosion on the skirt!” Slinkier silhouettes were draped from stretch jersey—a high-slit maxi skirt, held in place with a brooch; stylized ’40s star prints on dippy-hemmed dresses. A glistening silver-to-gold paillette dress, further embellished with glints of crystal would satisfy anyone who might be inspired to carry over the Met Gala’s ‘gilded’ theme into next fall, when the collection drops.

Meanwhile, the accessories nestling amongst the clothes tell the story of how Dossena has popularized and commercialized Paco Rabanne for a new generation. Tiny “jewelry” bags on chains—some of them made from linked metallic leather, others with jangly heart-shaped paillettes—have teenage “holiday gift” written all over them.

Dossena has other talents as a tailor; a couple of more grown-up ‘Sergeant Pepper’ military pantsuits with spanking-smart silver metal piping nodded toward that. Maybe that’s a signal of what’s to come when Dossena gets a chance to air his next runway collection in Paris in a few weeks, the place where he’s freer to push forward with experimentation.

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