“Craftsmanship plus great ideas: Paco Rabanne
Mostly known for the costumes of “Barbarella” and for being one of the main names of the 1960’s, Paco Rabanne is a brand rather shy in the last few seasons compared to its glorious days.
His Architecture background let Paco break some fashion boundaries, especially towards fabrics and their manipulation, and he started introducing some new materials that most people would not think of at his time. He has had experimented with paper, metal, chains and plastics and through them became able to transform their roughness into something delicate and form fitting, conquering the fashion consumers of his decade.
Towards the decades his style remained the same and, in the lack of heavier statements as the ones he has done before, his success started to decrease year after year. Knowing about his background and his work, it is possible to raise some questions about the decline of such a successful brand, such as:
- Was he, by any chance, a “one trick pony”; only able to stick to the same aesthetic he once succeeded?
- Did he design his collections with their consumers in mind? Thinking about the transitions occurring in the world, in the modern families and what were their needs?
- Was his brand identity the one to blame for his downfall?
- Is Paco Rabanne faded to become a perfume-only brand?
- Are the craftsmanship and artistic point of view faded to disappear in contemporary fashion?
Manish Arora was the chosen designer to “revitalize” the brand in the new century. He started in 2011 creating giant dresses with metallic shine resembling the metals once used by his predecessor. Artists such as Lady Gaga went for his idea and became huge buyers, but at the shops the results were not the same. Who would be able to wear such a gigantic dress in a daily basis? I guess even Paco himself would be aware of that.
Manish was able to bring a more colourful vibe to the brand and to make everyone talk about it, but the main goal was not able to achieve, again: make it profitable. And after only two years he was already out of the brand.
Julien Dossena is the new creative designer with the promise of reviving the brand and making it sellable again. His recent –and first- collection for Spring/Summer 2014 was shown in Paris this September and, without a doubt, will be graciously accepted amongst the trendsetters and it girls around the world. From Paco’s inheritance there was only the mod silhouette, which was popular when he first started.
Is this still being part of the brand? Revitalizing? Or did the creativity and craftsmanship lost their place to “what really sells”? Is there any way possible to cross these boundaries and unite both sides of the coin? The history, the labour, the studies and heritage really need to play a bigger role when designing for such a remarkable brand. Its glory days are way past us but designing for it should not be considered a burden, this is a true challenge that only great fashion artists are going to be able to succeed and, by that, to be revealed as such.
Generations changed and people are changing constantly, because of that it is necessary for someone to be aware of all of it when creating fashion that is authentic, original and that sells. ”