UNIVERSE: FASHION AS ART PACO RABANNE SS22 COLLECTION

Universe is a first-of-its kind, multi-layered cultural collaboration between Fondation Vasarely, Paco Rabanne and Selfridges. Exploring the world of groundbreaking artist Victor Vasarely and his influence on fashion designers such as Paco Rabanne, this unique initiative also celebrates the fashion house’s SS22 collection that was inspired by Vasarely.

Creative Director Julien Dossena worked closely with Fondation Vasarely on Paco Rabanne’s spring/summer 2022 collection, reimagining some of Vasarely’s iconic geometric Op-Art patterns into printed, jacquard, chainmail and sequined fabrics. 

© Paco Rabanne. Spring-Summer 2022 fashion show in Monaco

© Paco Rabanne. Spring-Summer 2022 fashion show in Monaco

The collection was showcased in June 2021 on the rooftop of the Auditorium Rainier III in Monte-Carlo, Monaco, where models strutted across ‘Hexa Grace’, a monumental mosaic artwork created by Vasarely in 1979 as a commission for Prince Rainier III of Monaco in honour of his then wife, the film star Grace Kelly. The work comprises 24,000 diamonds made from volcanic lava and enameled in 14 vibrant colours, forming a hexagonal shape that appears to expand out towards the Mediterranean Sea. 

© Paco Rabanne. Spring-Summer 2022 fashion show in Monaco

The wider inspiration for Paco Rabanne’s SS22 collection, named ‘Spirit of the Sun’, started with Dossena dreaming of balmy days. “What I was craving was really to just enjoy the sensation of the heat of the sun on the skin, swimming in the sea… how you can really celebrate that, and how you can enjoy and make the clothes that go with this lifestyle.” Dossena’s Mediterranean references harmonise with Vasarely’s universe. In 1947, the artist began holidaying in Brittany’s ‘Belle-Île, describing beach walks that are as evocative as this season’s sun-drenched Paco Rabanne prints: “The pebbles, the seashells on the beach, the whirlpools, the hovering mist, the sunshine, the sky… in the rocks, in the pieces of broken bottles, polished by the rhythmic coming and going of the waves, I am certain to recognise the internal geometry of nature.”

Dossena brings that geometry squarely into SS22 with printed bucket hats and macramé tops designed for sun-bleached days. Clever material techniques such as the denim bucket hats, which are treated with lasers and dyed (as an earth-conscious alternative to water-intensive washes), look “almost burned by the sun… as if these are vintage items that you left on the beach, and that you wear summer after summer.”

“Because we were lucky enough to work with Fondation Vasarely, I was able to directly translate artworks onto the clothes. We turned the spheres [of the work VP-108 (1969)] into a print used on a crop top, skirt and bag. The embracing figures [of Amor-1 / Amor-2 / Catch-II-A / Catch-II-B (1945)] were embroidered in sequins onto a skirt and top. And [works including Dia-SP-F1 (1968)] were reimagined in chainmail. We cut the clothes as though they were scarves so as not to interrupt the patterns of the original art – totems to Vasarely in the form of outfits,” Julien Dossena told British Vogue.