An exploration of radical craft 

Taking place within the medieval hall of the Conciergerie, this Paco Rabanne collection presents a composite portrait of women who conjure contemporary forces of light and dark. Exploring new territory through elaborate workmanship, Julien Dossena adapts garments associated with historical dress to arrive at radically crafted expressions of female power. 

Like the gothic vaulting that defines the setting, the fundamental aspects of Paco Rabanne—namely, the metal mesh and assemblage in silver and gold—become the foundation from which alternate ideas emerge. 

The tension between austere and embellished silhouettes is visible through diverse surface treatments, from the structured, military-style coats in lacquered leather to those bordered in delicate metallic embroideries. Total looks in printed chain mail, imitation leather, sequins and tapestry-style knits and printed stretch jersey experiment with anachronisms that span Joan of Arc to grunge. Religious vestments worn by men are subtly transformed into assertive, feminine looks, such as an unadorned tasseled dress in mohair suggestive of a monk’s robe, or the finery of papal lace. The imperceptible fusion of guipure lace and metal mesh suggests a hybridized armour that graces the body instead of shielding it, just as an assemblage leather coat depicts armour with suppleness. Ruffled, crenellated and starched eyelet collars and cuffs recur as a uniformly prim underpinning pitched against imposing outer layers. Constructed capelets and ample ceremonial volumes reminiscent of baptism dresses are countered with airy transparencies that make a haunting impression. 

At once elegant and empowering, headgear and hoods in chainmail or wool accented with embroidery have been added to several looks; while exaggerated platform boots in carmine red and combat boots in faux exotics add a frisson of punk to an excess of refinement. Metal belts emphasize a sense of strong decoration. 

Regarding bags, the iconic 1969 assumes various new identities: square tiling that resembles vintage porcelain covered in tea roses; small suede discs printed with wild flowers; gold medallions akin to old coins. The latest Sparkle style boasts the same teardrop-shaped sequins that feature in the ready-to-wear. The PACOÏO returns in new colourways of burgundy/silver and black/gold—each interior side channeling the warm and cool metals of the Maison. Finally, the handheld Op-Art bag expands into new shapes and textures, widened in tapestry print or as a smaller format with a mesh handle. 

Throughout this collection, Dossena has envisioned the coming together of women who summon a certain mystical strength that speaks to our time.