A projection of the underground provoked within the infamous fashion house’s new exhibition of RTW clothing

Differentiating from Rabanne’s renowned obsession with materiality, radical textures, and non-organic silhouettes, this year’s Spring Summer 2023 Collection celebrates a sublime projection of femininity in the face of unknown forces. For this collection, the house’s creative director Julien Dossena, accentuates the act of exploration beneath and beyond the surface, subverting perceptions of sensuality and strength.

Dossena first signed on as Paco Rabanne’s creative director after exiting from Balenciaga in 2012. The radical French designer seeks to completely refresh and reinvent Paco Rabanne. He aims to create an intriguing novelty in tune with the energy of street subculture, creating a striking interplay of enthusiast imagination within a contemporary style.

Emphasizing metal grates and scaffolding – an echo of one of the earliest Paco Rabanne shows – evokes an underground scene. An excitement stirs the sense of things on the verge of being shaken up.

Coded references start crossing over into an alluring, hybridised space: grunge flourishes interface with cyber-specific hues of vivid green, violet, blue and red. Fetish-inspired materials such as clear PVC are developed to elevated effect, merged with masculine suiting, or shown as a parka covered in studs like droplets of liquid metal. There are sumptuous and romantic applications of PVC, as well a flowers prints and panelling classic grain de poudre, or placed atop tapestry fabric. When PVC seamlessly fuses with assemblage, it’s as though the look is changing states, almost morphing.

Latex enters the collection by transforming pieces in unexpected ways. Exhibiting a shift from initial strangeness to sophistication. Dresses are moulded like a second skin and injected with blurring color as edges ripple. Elsewhere, latex appears fluid and light as silk, a simulacrum for slip dresses and boudoir shorts bordered with intricate incrustations of lace. Latex is imposed upon metal mesh, a duality that advances the emblematic Paco Rabanne material once again.

Slick surfaces are counterbalanced by texture and movement, from a crackled leather coat to silver metallic trousers that retain their creases. Variations on chain mail include modified fringes that seem to disintegrate as they descend. Fringes also appear on frothy tiered skirts that resemble exaggerated tutus.

Hints of bondage assimilate alternate associations, leather bands and cuffs that wrap the body are worn to empower while eyelets patterned across harnesses attest to handcraft. Within every suggestion of protection – the iconic 1969 assemblage bags are newly shielded by PVC – is an emphasis of exposure through fabric and silhouette.

Exaggerated combat boots reinforce a necessary attitude: a readiness for all conditions, a flex of tactical purpose and subculture style. Within this liminal, industrial space, Dossena arrives at a statement that resists reductive description. Within this look, the  elemental aspects of Paco Rabanne are transposed to a reality which is rapidly evolving before our eyes.

Watch the full show below:

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