It is never easy for a young designer to take on a heritage brand, particularly one like Paco Rabanne where the label is so closely linked to one era and one particular style of dress. In the case of Rabanne, it’s those metal-linked plastic disc dresses the founder introduced in the mid-sixties.
But designer Julien Dossena, whose fall/winter 2014 collection was only his second for the house, has been rather successful in creating a new direction for the brand. One where the designer adequately paid homage to the past without getting sucked into its backward looking black hole. And thankfully he also didn’t go in the opposite direction, as some of his predecessors did, and ignored the label’s DNA completely. Which can also be a costly mistake.
No, Dossena was clever in his assimilation. Turning the metal link concept into a punky safety-pin design construction of see-though dresses and tops worn overlaid on sporty shells or slip dresses. He also easily threaded the metallic idea into other design elements in the show, like glossy silver padded lapels on boxy jackets or asymmetrical wrap metal mesh skirts. There again the past and present balance was well thought out.
So much so that any wet behind the ears fashionista who had not done their fashion history homework wouldn’t care that the designer had made such a concerted effort to update the brand’s codes. They would simply think that his geometric laser cut leather vests, sporty quilted jackets, wide collared tops and plastic zippered detailed skirts just looked cool.
It’s no wonder that Dossena made it to the semi finals of the inaugural LVMH Prize for Atto, a womenswear line he launched in 2012. Be it Paco or Atto, Dossena is definitely a designer to watch.