Civilisations collide

Crystal fringing and golden decay – Rabanne’s woman is a time-travelling deity
By Alex James Taylor | Fashion | 28 September 2023

Rabanne’s bejewelled armour swayed to each model’s step, delicate metal fringing swung with purpose and mirrorball dresses reflected spotlights back at themselves 360. “How is it that the deep past also conjures the far-off future?” – the show notes posed. And so Julien Dossena loaded us into the Rabanne time machine and smacked his foot on the accelerator, taking us into a cosmic new world fuelled by Paco Rabanne’s revolutionary sci-fi designs, collecting artefacts from past, present and future that shimmer and delight. Where some designers present designs they imagine a future society may wear, Rabanne has always gone one further, blurring the lines completely and making you question if these are indeed souvenirs from some far-off landscape.

Back to 2023, and Dossena’s SS24 collection continues to abstract the familiar. You’ll no doubt recognise the shapes – sarouel pants, scarf tops, draped skirts and gladiator boots – yet there’s a sense of distortion in time and space. Draping is drawn from antique marble statuary, while loose gold threads become tangible moments of exquisite decay. Sandals are encrusted with rock crystals – perhaps space dust kicked up and solidified during cosmos travels – and basque waistlines mingle with slouched, 90s trousers. Eras, cultures, genres collide, combine, contort.

Across tank tops, prints from Nues, a 1960s collaborative photographic series by Jean Clemmer and Paco Rabanne depicted nude women draped in the designer’s elaborate aluminium and chainmail assemblages – revisit our 2016 interview with Dossena discussing the series here.

Extra research: further your Rabanne world by tuning into club 57, a new partnership between Rabanne and Spotify shining a light on the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, featuring playlists, podcasts and exclusive drops. Fact: in the 70s Paco Rabanne founded Black Sugar, an art centre and workshop for hip-hop and break musicians and dancers located at 57 Boulevard de La Villette – it later evolved into Club 57 and hosted the likes of JoeyStarr, Kool Shen and MC Solaar.

GALLERYCatwalk images from Rabanne WOMENS-SPRING-SUMMER-24