#SuzyPFW: The Endless Succession Question

Paco Rabanne: light-hearted metal

The chink, chink of not-so-heavy metal started before the first models with their silvered chain dresses and rattling metallic sandals started on the runway. Happy birthday, Wacko Paco! Your first chain-mail outfits have just turned 50.

The current designer, Julien Dossena, gave this brand the best of gifts: the secret of staying modern and relevant.

“I wanted to get that territory of the house that really prizes the craftsmanship. All done by hand and created with our own materials. Its preciousness works with the more classic wardrobe to get that effortless balance,” he said.

“We had to dig in the archives for some of the effects and shapes. At the same time I worked with them in a light way, and the styling helps a lot, too, to give it that relaxed look.”

The secret of the designer’s success seems so simple. While most heritage houses struggle, the Paco collections have a steady balance between old and new. Dossena is helped by the fact that everything shiny and sparkling is the height of fashion.

The designer’s skill is to weave glitter into normality, so that a model might wear a white blouse with a sparkly skirt, denim snuggled in among the glitter, silver mesh over an ankle-length striped T-shirt, or a raincoat wrapped over the tinsel beneath.

The result was such a powerful mix of old and new that this half-century of Paco Rabanne was a celebration of how to keep fashion relevant.

Lanvin: counting on colour

The house of Lanvin has just been purchased by the Chinese group Fosun, which must be hoping that it can bring back the spirit of the historic house and pitch it in a similar position to Balmain and Valentino, which have become billion-dollar brands.

Considering the pressure on the designer, Olivier Lapidus, he sent out a colourful and wearable collection, light on tailoring, but streamlined when it appeared, for example, as an ankle-length coat in black, or a mannish style in beige leather with black labels.

Colour pepped up the collection, particularly after the little black dresses of the first Lapidus show. Sunshine yellow for a top and a long gown were part of a bright palette that enlivened traditional, but well-achieved, outfits.

Yet, with the shadow of rejected designer Alber Elbaz still looming so large over Lanvin, the new owners will have to reboot the brand in the hopes of giving it back star status.