The atmosphere at Paco Rabanne was buzzy – and busy! Nicholas Ghesquière was there in full support of creative director Julien Dossena, alongside lots of other smiley people. They had every reason to be happy. This season, this wondrous and dynamic house - a staple from sixties fashion history - took one giant leap for A/W 16. The derivative late nineties Balenciaga tropes from last season had faded and Dossena - although naturally informed by his past at that house - stood alone. The collection opened with the most important item in this collection: the trousers. They were very strong throughout. Zootish in shape, they were an eighties take on forties men's tailoring. The girls’ hair was gelled back and they wore incredible ear-pieces, which were like punkish feathers. With this collection, Dossena revived the Paco Rabanne archive yet he also - importantly - took us into sideways milieus, away from the sixties. He achieved an eclecticism, which felt contained.
There were a plethora of sculptural knitwear pieces; a fit and flare shaped dress looked android cozy. Meanwhile, a really cool 21st century take on a moon boot saw the Paco Rabanne legacy capable of treading the streets of any major city in the world. The boots didn’t look literal, they looked motocross sporty, and like something one could subversively style with a lot of fun – or serious – things. The turtle neck shape, the archetypal sixties piece - which is shorthand for chic - was one of the pieces available to buy straight from the runway.
There was an incredible classicism imbued in this collection. A shearling cream coat looked like a forever piece. Dossena would be advised on avoiding drifting into the rocks of a Celine-esque territory. Minimalism mixed with seventies luxe has been so done to death that it now feels homogeneous.
Buoyant and playful pieces that felt a little less bourgeoisie were a highlight - see the skirts which looked like culottes; they wrapped at the back, like a duvet tied at the waist. Primitive references are also part of the space-age vernacular - ‘where could we go next? Where have we come from?’ Dossena aptly engaged with this via fur braces and a colour palette that felt sandy, grounded and organic. Intergalactic peacock green lipstick and silver hoods added a pop to the oatmeal neutral sweaters. The denim seemed particularly popular at the show, and it was exciting to see the house offer a new take on jeans. The label also offered a great bomber, a great knee length skirt, and a white shirt - basically core commercial pieces that a modern woman wants in her wardrobe.
The last section comprised of chinoiserie embroideries, which saw tigers and dragons pounce over shoulders on tunics or midriff-baring apron tops. A body amour vibe saw these pieces pivot back over to the sci-fi side of things, yet swerve the possibility of coming off a little too tough girl minimal by flirting with the softer values of the now. There was a sporty edge but the cherry blossoms and eastern motifs channeled older, more historic takes on exoticism. It could have been an exploration of planet earth or outer space - either way, it worked.
Finally, ditsy daisy prints floated over black dresses - and a nineties grunge take on retro futurism closed the show. It reminded one of the pre-millennial days when the anticipation of passing over the precipice of 1999 triggered a collective anxiety around our planet's welfare. These were the days when 'going green into the nineties' and closing the gap in the ozone-layer were important mass messages within the time. Grunge girls didn't use hairspray, so we knew we were doing our bit. It was worth it. We made it. We’re still here.