Julien Dossena has had quite the year almost a decade into his role as creative director at Paco Rabanne, which got renamed “Rabanne” a few days ago. Not long after its namesake founder passed away in February, Dossena was announced as the fifth guest designer to do a couture collection for Jean Paul Gaultier, which was unveiled this week at the brand’s Paris headquarters.

Following in the footsteps of Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Sacai’s Chitose Abe, Diesel and Y/Project’s Glenn Martens, and Haider Ackermann last season, Dossena leaned heavily into JPG’s archives and sent out several referential looks from noteworthy past collections, including iterations of the famous cone bra from the 1984 “Barbès” collection and pieces from the controversial 1993 “Chic Rabbis” collection.

It was his first time designing an haute couture collection, though Dossena’s labor-intensive and meticulous work at Rabanne, particularly with the metalwork, made him a natural fit for JPG, a designer he credits for helping him realize fashion was a career he could pursue after watching his shows on television as a child growing up in the Brittany region of France.

Jean Rabanne Gaultier Haute Couture by Julien Dossena, as this offering was called, hinted at a melding of different perspectives: his work at Rabanne, his interpretation of the Gaultier archives, and Dossena’s own influences and sensibilities as a designer, which inclines toward experimentation of materials and tacticality. As usual, Gaultier gave Dossena free rein to do as he pleased, with Gaultier seeing the looks come down the runway for the first time alongside everyone else the day of the show.

Each of the 33 looks was named after streets in Paris and was a study in the interplay of texture and materials with nods to a span of collections from Gaultier. A velvet dress with a rose neckline was based on a JPG look from The Fifth Element, a dragon-embroidered light cream corset took inspiration from a Spring 1997 couture look while an off-shoulder tie-top referenced a piece from the Spring 2002 couture collection. 

Courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier

Several haute couture clients in the front row, many of them decked out in exclusives from Gaultier’s last Haider Ackermann collection, will likely gravitate toward the cinched pinstriped suits and sailor stripe furs Gaultier made his signature all those years ago.

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