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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Paco Rabanne: Digital Force

In three years, designer Julien Dossena has taken a 1960s brand into the cyber age

11 Марта 2016

Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

It started with a sleeveless T-shirt, with ladders like torn hose, worn above black trousers. But that was just the beginning of Paco Rabanne - "Wacko Paco" as the designer was called back in the Sixties - where Creative Director Julien Dossena has taken over.

This was an exceptional treatment of a fashion heritage, where, since 2013, the designer has been mashing up the futuristic qualities of then and now. The 21st-century vision of modernism is not about rattling metallic chains, but about playing with different stretch fabrics, so that a soft cream hoodie with metallic clips moved into the lower half of a dress in bright white. It seemed like material that moved with the body was factored into every piece: in tops worn over thin, black bras; or a collar's edge that was smothered in roughly cut fur.

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Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


Prints and patterns, sparking ear pieces and a fringed loafer boot finished off the apparently basic clothes. Not to mention "journey into space" silver boots, ready for lift off. Each outfit sounds complex, yet the effect was the opposite. Then there was 21st-century decoration, like a shiny, black top embroidered with licking scarlet flames. For his sixth show with the house, the designer introduced fresh elements, like patterns of tigers that leaped across a bare midriff top mirroring a 3D movie.

I wanted to know where all the references came from: the metal mesh used for a slithering scarlet dress was surely a look back to Gianni Versace in the 1990s - a fact that Julien confirmed backstage. The reason why Paco Rabanne has found a successful designer after many failed attempts is as mysterious as the enormous picture of wild rushes and concrete pods that artist David De Beyter presented with his invitations at "Paco Rabanne".

Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Since this new Creative Director has got under the skin of the founder and made the brand coherent, I asked Julien to explain his technique in his own words. "I try to find a good material that's really neutral and that allows me that sharpness and cleanness to work and play with more decoration and more prints," the designer said. "You can still be sharp and add some decoration." "For tailoring, I wanted this attitude of super confident and super strong," he continued. "It's really how to play and also find a new identity for that girl that we've been working on for two years now."

It seems like time well spent and that 21st-century identity is just what Paco Rabanne - and other space-age heritage houses - need to survive 50 years on.

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Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Paco Rabanne, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


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