Generous, hedonistic, timeless: this is what the new collection created by designer Julien Dossena for the Swedish giant will look like.
Julien Dossena is on a roll. After his Jean Paul Gaultier couture collaboration in July and the fantastic “Ibiza in the ’70s” runway show he presented last week for spring-summer 2024, a couple of nights ago, in Silence (Paris) – and with stellar performances by Robyn and Cher – he celebrated with a “pool party” the preview of the resplendent and sexy Rabanne x H&M collection.
Inspired by Paco Rabanne’s space-age modernist style and penchant for shocking effects, the maximalist men’s and women’s line – with lots of netting, mirrored embellishments and rhinestones – includes reinterpretations of the house’s classic “disco-o-rama” dresses and other groundbreaking options for the upcoming holidays. Among the highlights: gold, silver or purple paillettes; sequined housewear; a tuxedo-style jumpsuit; a gold-embroidered military jacket that would have made Michael Jackson’s mouth water; and a shimmering geometric “flamboyant” jacquard ensemble that evokes 1970s extravagance.
However, as Dossena explains in his exclusive dialogue for Vogue with Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s creative advisor, the intention is not so much to impinge on a retro aesthetic as to put a new spin on the classics. “We wanted to make a generous, hedonistic, fun, light, casual and timeless collection,” says the designer, noting that both Johansson and he agreed on the importance of sophistication, quality and attention to detail. Also, fun. “We thought a lot about inclusivity and diversity and how to play with them in a way that was a little bit Jimi Hendrix, a little bit David Bowie, a little bit Helmut Newton and a little bit Grace Coddington at the pool,” he said, referring to a 1973 fashion editorial starring the legendary Vogue stylist in her modeling days. “To be timeless, we had to make powerful pieces that could be easily mixed and matched and make closet staples.”
Not surprisingly, taking on Rabanne’s most iconic labels posed H&M’s creatives one of their most complicated endeavors to date. “We got to wondering if we would really be able to pull it off,” admitted Johansson, whose team had to figure out how to revisit certain techniques such as hand-woven metal in the most sustainable way possible, favoring the use of recycled aluminum, PET and crystals. “We love these kinds of challenges, and we wanted to do our best to overcome any limitations and achieve high-level craftsmanship. It took a lot of teamwork.”
While the spirit of the collaboration was to bring some of Rabanne’s history to a new – or even older – generation, Dossena felt it was equally essential to recontextualize today’s Rabanne, so the team was keen to seek out diverse, current characters and make the clothing, accessories and jewelry work more for the long term. A whiff of ‘All American’ style: silver cowboy boots with gold appliqués, western and cottagecore-style shirts, scarves and belts with crystals, not to mention jeans, bring to mind the Elvis of Las Vegas. Along with dangling lattice earrings and sequin mini bags, there are other superlative accessories such as Rhodoid or silver net headdresses with bangs, bombastic swimsuits and sequin panties.
Of the latter garment, Dossena says, “I also wanted to invoke a queer sensuality, because it’s a primary part of what we do at Rabanne. That daring extravagance had to be included.”
In the home décor category, on the other hand, the offering is extensive: furniture designs made by Paco Rabanne in the 1960s shape items ranging from sparkling cocktail tables, chain-mail curtains or a rug to cushions, scented candles, playing cards and dice. At 31 pieces, this is H&M Home’s most extensive collection to date.
“Paco Rabanne was a genius of radical design and innovative materials, so I was very motivated to take it further,” says Dossena. “In the end, what inspires me the most is seeing someone wear something a little extreme, mix it with something else more classic, and suddenly they’re the coolest person at the party.”