How is it that the deep past also conjures the far-off future? From one extreme, the tangible relics of distant civilisations; from the other, the unimaginable state of the world centuries from now. Julien Dossena’s latest collection emerges in the realm of a mirage, where the myths and artefacts that endure collide with the stories dreamt up, where reality blurs with illusory.
This archaeological expression of Rabanne is grounded in the present owing to its materiality and feeling. It is a reflection on both the handcraft involved in the earliest garments and on the evolution of handcraft today. It is also an exploration of the rapport between tactility and sensuality. From one look to the next, the body is highly adorned and provocatively revealed. A powerful feminine representation takes shape: statuesque, fearless, and traversing time.
Traditional clothing and coverings such as sarouel pants, folded-over scarf tops, and draped skirts and shorts are reinterpreted and embellished with geometric metallic embroidery, metal fringe and lacing. Raw, rustic fabrics interplay with elaborate beading, while loose gold threads suggests a state of beautiful decay. Yet there is a parallel modern story: sharply tailored jackets boast alluring gathered fronts, basque waistlines are worked from different angles, and slouched trousers signal a grunge attitude.
Draping, meanwhile, draws closely from depictions of antique marble statuary – from delicate folds of fabric folds to serigraphic prints that realistically capture the light and shadow. Knit and woven looks in wool and hemp pay homage to Sheila Hicks, as contoured silhouettes give way to densely layered fibre volumes.
Skin isn’t simply exposed, it is engaged in the material experience: the swishing of liquid metal mesh against the leg, the frisson from an assemblage of honed wood discs and peacock feathers. Beyond the black, gold and silver that are emblematically Rabanne, gradient desert tones, luminous copper and cool shades of blue and lilac further highlight the skin.
Sculptural hardware gives a mystical flourish, whether forehead pendants, belts comprised of gleaming spheres or sandals enhanced with rock crystals. Openwork boots with curving soles boast a pattern of fine straps that climb up the leg as a twist on the gladiator style.
Finally, Dossena revisits Nues, the iconic series by photographer Jean Clemmer in collaboration with Paco Rabanne featuring women who were nearly nude apart from the chain assemblage that encircled, cascaded and draped from their bodies.
At once erotic and poetic, these images from 1962 appear on tank tops, including one worn with a dress of Swarovski crystals and metal mesh. The effect is like a reverse mimesis emphasising the ever-present mystery and desire of Rabanne.