Julien Dossena clearly remembers the Paco Rabanne collection, which made him feel like he really got going. “It was autumn/winter 2018,” recalls the creative director of the house. “It paid homage to Paco Rabanne by mixing chain mail and iconic pieces with generic wardrobe elements. In the end it was super balanced and felt real, and it allowed me to turn a page and start a new chapter of my work, as if I knew I understood the house and could move on to something more personal.”
House founder Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo, born in Spain in 1934, worked under the pseudonym Paco Rabanne. The enfant terrible of Parisian fashion, he sought unconventional materials to create designs that became synonymous with 1960s mod fashion. Jane Fonda famously wore his costumes in the 1968s barbarawhile Audrey Hepburn eschewed her favorite Givenchy in favor of a Rabanne chainmail dress in the 1967s Two for the road.
Dossena – whose designs have recently been worn by Anne Hathaway (on The Kelly Clarkson Show), Joey King, Sabrina Carpenter and Demi Singleton — says he’s not intimidated by the house’s history or its highly identifiable codes. “I love the label because of the fact that it was really pure, free territory to create a proposal for a new aesthetic,” notes the 40-year-old designer. “It is also a name that carries strong values of modernity, sensuality and radical gestures. I felt this was the best place to maintain a unique heritage and update it for the present.”
For its Fall/Winter 2022 collection, Dossena used the house’s iconic chain mail as a tailored detail for skirts and dresses with asymmetric draping or in bubble silhouettes. The latter was perfect for singleton (King Richard) to wear vanity fair‘s Oscar Party in March. “I wanted to work on bodies and proportions, like an organic couture or something,” explains Dossena. “So I went with that and adapted that feel to metal mesh and worked to tame it until it was exactly that idea.”
Dossena also designed a custom silver embroidered sequin bodice and gold sequin skirt for Carpenter (work it; big girl) for the last Met Gala.
“We saw several people trying to take on Paco Rabanne, but Julien really brought it back to life and brought it to life,” says Bolden, who styled both Singleton and Carpenter in Paco Rabanne. “What Julien did is so clever; To be able to work with someone as young as Demi and get him on board with this young black actress who’s 15 and what he’s bringing out of the past feels so timely . And then when you look at Sabrina Carpenter in that gold skirt, you can tell he hasn’t lost that flashy mod point of view, he’s got it spot on with today’s fashion.”
Indeed, this balance will continue to attract Dossena’s attention. “Most of the time, I always try to go with instinct about what feels better in the now and base my decisions on that scale,” he says. “So the balance really depends on the collection and what I’m feeling at the moment – sometimes more Paco, sometimes more me. It’s always changing, and that’s what fashion in general is all about.”
A version of this story first appeared in the September 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to login.