Paco Rabanne’s Julien Dossena talks exclusively about his collaboration with photographer David de Beyter, which opens as part of an exhibition in Paris today
Julien Dossena calls his collections for Paco Rabanne a “compilation of what touches me at the time”. For Pre-Fall 2019, this means a “a countryside family house, weekends, the outdoors, dinners and poetry,” chanelling an “eclectic aristocratic style” and “grunge irreverence”. It makes for a collection of juxtapositions: ladylike bias-cut silk and chainmail gowns worn with Western cowboy boots and Perfecto leather jackets, opulent military jackets with lumberjack check shirts and band-style T-shirts. All are linked to outdoor life in some way or other – a lookbook placed the models among the vast wintry landscapes of fine-art photographer David de Beyter.
Dossena – who met De Beyter at La Cambre art school in Brussels – also invited the photographer to capture the collection in a more unexpected manner: placing individual garments among France’s Brittany and Jura regions, and the mystical landscapes which De Beyter has long made his signature. “We began to work with David on our first campaign four years ago, the idea was to recontextualise the classic expression of a fashion brand,” Dossena tells AnOther. “After that we continuously have been in conversation. It’s the dialogue between the clothes and David’s imagery which surprises me, and I love.”
These landscapes are familiar to the designer, who grew up in northern France, where several of the photographs were shot. “David went to Brittany to take pictures a long time before we worked together, for his personal work, and he stayed with my grandparents,” Dossena says. “I think there are some places there he loves: the abstraction of the coast maybe, the mineral aspect, which gives a surreal and timeless feeling to the image.” Such landscapes are at the heart of De Beyter’s work: “they are the base of my artistic research,” he says. “It’s a part of my vocabulary, so every time I go somewhere, I’m attentive to it.” Here, they proved particularly dramatic. “They are cold, romantic and primary at the same time,” he says.
Clothing, though, was something new to De Beyter – he had worked on artistic projects with Dossena at Paco Rabanne previously, but they had never involved the collections themselves. “I had never photographed clothes until now,” De Beyter says “I wondered how an object like a garment could fit into a wide landscape. There was immediately a question of scale: a garment is a small object compared to a landscape. It was an exciting challenge.” The resulting photographs have a fantastical, near-fairytale quality: a dress of golden pailettes is suspended amid a mist-filled gorge, a floral-print bag lies on a shoreline as waves churn beyond; in another, a figure crouches, concealed, among moss-covered rocks and trees. “I decided to put clothes in a sort a fictional context,” De Beyter says. “To put them in improbable situations, to challenge the laws of physics in a way.”
This evening, they will go on display as part of an exhibition at Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann until July 12, with various pieces from the images available to purchase alongside. Posited as a journey through Dossena and De Beyter’s work, the immersive exhibition is a testament to the power of taking the familiar and out of context: “I love clothes and fashion, obviously, but I also like when it can tell other narratives through the eye and the specific medium of an artist,” says Dossena. “With David’s work, I love his commitment to fullfil his curiosity, he is always searching.”
The exhibition, open to the public, will run at Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann from July 1 – 12, 2019, with exclusive pieces available. These pieces will also be available at Paco Rabanne, 12 rue Cambon Paris and on pacorabanne.com.