Pre-show, red spotlights shone down onto the room. They were pointed at the standing audience who were placed in the middle of the catwalk - in an area marked off with white floor tape. They must have been even hotter than those of us who were seated. Once the oven-ready lights went away, the intended mise en scène became clear: we were in a nightclub. As the catwalk snaked around the clusters of crowds, the models stormed through with gusto. The energy was high and the clothes were joyous. Disco was the theme. It was both in the soundtrack and on the runway. Snakeskin-printed turtlenecks were squared off with a panel of silver sequins and worn with a silver skirt. Away from the a-typical world of Paco Rabanne metallics, some little organza 'skort' style dresses in pink, blue or cream were like sporty petticoats. From Look 4, the collection start to make advances into what would be the main takeaway of the collection: body conscious draping.
With this year having seen fashion commemorate the twenty year anniversary of the death of Gianni Versace, this collection owes a debt to Gianni, as it was him who first took the kitsch glamour of disco and slam dunked it with the sinuous line of neoclassical draping. Taking Rabanne's chain mail, in 1982, Gianni made it more liquid effeminate and patented the material as Oroton. Not that Paco Rabanne didn't do its own version. But it's Versace's take that would go onto become more influential on late 20th century fashion. Thanks to Julien Dossena, Paco Rabanne is a modernist fashion house that is now engaging with the postmodern - and a clever remixing of this house's incredible influence within fashion history. The thigh boots, asymmetric neck lines and thigh high splits seen here were also all part of Gianni Versace's way to engage with the timelessness of Ancient Greece and the 'bad taste' realm of his muse: the prostitute. Paco Rabanne stays in a space age vacuum, so it's emerging intertwining with wider fashion and culture is interesting.
This isn't the first season that Dossena has done metallics in liquid form - and it looks great. For S/S 18, Dossena cleverly counterbalanced sexy with the flatness of the boots, the grungy shredding of the trousers, the black skinny ribbed cardigans and the laissez-faire hair and make up. Making a nod to this mix, the show notes talked of 'comfort, lightness and body conscious shapes mixing grunge, disco and pop culture.' The mesh metallic dresses that had the appearance of being shredded reminded one of the medieval quality of this house - and chainmail's original roots. Whether amor or armour, this was a season about giving strong glamour game - and embracing a fun loving quality of dressing.