So much for the sophomore slump. Paco Rabanne's Patrick Robinson dispensed of the notion entirely with a strong spring collection that paid homage to the heritage of the house, without risking its sense of the present tense. To accomplish this elusive feat, Robinson ordered 500 vintage silk kimonos from a textile dealer, sliced them up, and pieced them together with metal and plastic discs, like Rabanne once did. In the stores, no two dresses will look alike, because all the fabrics are antique. That should appeal to the kind of cool girl with funds to spare for whom he's designing, as will his slim, stovepipe pants, short tulip skirts, and sporty yet sexy racer-back tanks.
Robinson evoked the house's rich history in other ways, too, starting with his silhouette. Dresses were all above the knee; some draped from Empire waists, while others were A-line. Elsewhere, he experimented with fabrics with a futuristic look. Short shorts were cut from a stiff gold mesh that looked practically bulletproof, and the black bodice of a drop-waist feather-hemmed shift rippled like water. One editor suggested that Robinson's knowing mix of the old and the new, of East and West, makes him an apt candidate to design wardrobes for the next installment of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill series. Until then, he's focusing on moving the house forward; otherwise, as he said backstage, it's all just costumes.