At Paris Fashion Week, Paco Rabanne’s Loud Armor and Rick Owens' Soft Sensuality

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Differing visions of femininity at Paris Fashion Week.

Designer Julian Dossena has been artistic director of Paco Rabanne, the French fashion house with roots in the Space Age 1960s materials revolution, for going on five years . But never has his collection felt so relevant as it did Friday at Paris Fashion Week, when the jingle-jangle of the chain-mail column dresses and metal-embellished pool slides suggested that this is the time for women to make some noise.


Women making noise, yes! @pacorabanne #pfw

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Granted, you kind of had to be there, but trust me, this was the loudest show of the week, with the models making themselves heard with every step. Dossena layered cage tops and dresses of chain, crystal and pearlescent flowers over and under everyday sportswear, including a Breton stripe shirt, blue blazer and jeans, to create a new modern armor.

And he used the brand’s signature materials craftsmanship on perforated knitwear, a pierced slip dress and patchwork shearling coat that echoed the distinct texture of the chain mail. Chrissy Teigen, Kim Kardashian and Amal Clooney are already Hollywood fans of the brand, and we expect to see a whole lot more in the future.

Meanwhile, Rick Owens, who is often associated with grand runway gestures (last season’s dancing fountain, for one), made a quieter statement this season, perhaps sensing that showmanship and spectacle can wear out their welcome.

He set his runway show to several versions of the old standard, “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” though the collection itself had none of the three. Instead, it focused on seduction in its most basic form, creating soft sensuality with padded parkas worn over shorts; tunics and dresses with down-filled bulbous contusions; and checked dresses, shirts, cross-body bags and backpacks that swaddled the body, all worn with basic sneakers or ankle boots.

Patchwork overcoats and work shirts with oversized cargo pockets, some trailing loose filaments, bits of yarn or hand-painted with brushstrokes, spoke to the emerging trend of imperfect decoration and details (seen also at Dries Van Noten, Marni and more).

Although the collection concept may have been fairly abstract, the effect was some of the most accessible clothes we’ve seen from Owens in recent memory, which in and of itself made a lot of noise.