Fashion contains so many contradictions. Its constant hunger for the new often extends to a fascination with youth; yet there’s also a pull toward heritage. A flower can’t grow without roots, after all. This push-and-pull is especially marked at “heritage” houses. Since joining Paco Rabanne in 2014 Julien Dossena has established an MO that is summed up in the press notes for his 2024 resort collection: “The constant juxtaposition of fancy elements and relaxed garments brings fresh focus to the Maison’s DNA, at once intricately crafted yet ever-youthful.”

This season fancy and relaxed elements co-exist in garments (or outfits); the collection contains a holiday capsule, and it’s these looks, with close-ups of the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop, that appear first in the look book. Here Dossena has adapted ’30s silhouettes, and garnished them with Paco-inspired accessories. He has paired, as is his wont, metal mesh with lace. In Deco-inspired geometries, as well as snowflakes, he plays with some of the prismatic shapes that can be achieved by the house’s famed linking technique. Ice cube-like strap treatments further develop the winter wonderland theme.

From there the lookbook takes us to the Trocadero where Dossena revisits his love of boho luxe, fringe, tapestry, and grunge. The designer’s stated references are the ’70s and ’90s, and he succeeded in updating visual codes from those eras in a way that captured his own take on contemporary dressing, even if the soul was missing. Mixed among these military, Klute-ish, and (not so) grungy looks, tough-girl boots—even fierce looking ones made in collaboration with New Rock—do not a rebel make. Among the separates are some obligatory metal link dresses, this time with big, bold single sequins trimming hems in a dramatic way. There are also looks with metallic or diamante embroidery: a nice, non-literal extension of the house codes relating to metallics and shine. Studding on knits is a neat idea that could be further explored.

Grunge is a recurring Dossena touchpoint: if you really drill down, the ethos and physicality of grunge has a very clear connection to Paco Rabanne’s first designs. Seattleites were creating style with what they had at hand; jeans worn from usage, flannel shirts and thermals that kept out some of the cold. (Let’s not forget that in 1993 Jean Paul Gaultier told Vogue, “grunge is how we dress when we have no money.”) That’s not so different from what the expatriate Spaniard was doing in Paris, making links from leftover leathers, and using atypical, humble materials like plastic and metal. There is a lot of finesse in this resort collection in which there is a hierarchy of high/low (Dossena’s “fancy” and “relaxed” poles for resort), but it lacks that youthful spirit of inventiveness that challenges what fashion can be, and what it can be made of. As such it looks back instead of forward.

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