This may be hard to believe, but chainmail — along with textiles like metal, paper, and plastic — was not a trend made popular by the Kardashians. It took off in the '60s, in France, when a young designer by the name of Paco Rabanne made a mark on the industry after designing accessories for the likes of Givenchy, Balenciaga, and Dior. Known these days for his namesake label, but back then as the industry's enfant terrible, the Rabanne name carries with it a long history of veering from the status quo. But after the label's fall 2018 show, it's the brand's current creative director, Julien Dossena, whose name you'll be seeing a lot more of.
Back in 2013, the French designer took over the helm of Rabanne after Lydia Mauer's yearlong stint at the label. (Dossena, too, spent time at Balenciaga before making the jump.) But despite hits here and there, a clear and succinct continuation of what Rabanne was known for has been a blur for many years — until now. A keen understanding of where the brand has come from and a clear path of where it's going made Dossena's latest stunt at Paco Rabanne a show worth watching over and over again.
It's not easy to capture the essence of French style, and it certainly doesn't take a 38 looks to encompass what we love about the underpinnings of the Parisian's wardrobe. It's why cameos of archival designs, like remakes of Audrey Hepburn’s mirrored shift dress from Two For The Road and muse Françoise Hardy’s chainlink numbers, incited nostalgia from a fashion house that doesn't care if it stays current. That risk of looking back to move forward doesn't always work, and Dossena would know, considering he hasn't tried it until now. But it paid off. A few textures worth trying: crystal, rhodoid, pearlescent flowers, metallic daises, and more — all underused materials that are stunning in motion.
To say Dossena has found his footing would mean that the house of Rabanne has lacked solid ground for several seasons, but it'd also be untrue. It's just that, after four designers have attempted to dissect — and prolong — the estate of a man who left fashion before it left him, maybe the fifth time is the charm. As they say, better late than never.