February 28, 2006
"Paco Rabanne was always thinking about the next generation, what they would want to wear," said Patrick Robinson, who inherited the design mantle at the French house three seasons ago. In seeking his own answers for a contemporary audience, Robinson looked to a couture collection Rabanne did in the late eighties, one in which he experimented with huge bands of fabric that wrapped any number of ways around his clothes: crisscrossing the torso, circling the waist, slung over the hips. That decade has proven a popular reference point this season, but Robinson's jackets, with their pronounced epaulets, double lapels, patch pockets, and inverted pleats, looked newer than most. No glass ceiling could stand up to those shoulders. And when you consider how elaborately constructed the jackets were, no pants could either, which is why he sagely came up with the collection's sleek leggings.
Robinson's banding concept produced some great items, from tailored shirts in soft gray sweatshirt material to a short houndstooth cape with rectangles of fabric draped from just under the bust to the lower back. For evening, the concept was somewhat harder to pull off. Stiff ruffles of fabric that ran up and down the sides of a black sheath came off as slightly tricky, and there was a little too much folding and pintucking on a navy cocktail number. The surface treatments on his dresses, accomplished though they were, threatened to obscure the main attractionthe wearer's body underneath. His tough-chic jackets and coats, on the other hand, showcased it.