From the very origins of Paco Rabanne, there has always been an obsession with materiality, radical textures, and non-organic silhouettes. For Spring Summer 2023, Julien Dossena explores beneath and beyond the surface, subverting perceptions of sensuality and strength. With an intuition toward the future, the collection becomes a sublime projection of femininity in the face of unknown forces.  

Metal grates and scaffolding – an echo of one of the earliest Paco Rabanne shows – evoke an underground scene. There is an excitement that 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,  printed with flowers and panelling classic grain de Powder, 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, transforming pieces in unexpected ways. An initial strangeness shifts to sophistication. There are dresses moulded like a second skin and injected with blurring colour 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.  

Notions of bondage assume alternate associations; leather bands and cuffs that wrap the body are worn to empower while eyelets patterned across harnesses attest to handcraft. And for every suggestion of protection – the iconic 1969 assemblage bags are newly shielded by PVC – there are looks that emphasise exposure through fabric and silhouette: gauzy dresses with gradient treatments, a well-defined décolleté, and knits with holes that reveal the skin.  

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. Here, the elemental aspects of Paco Rabanne are transposed to a reality that is rapidly evolving before our eyes.