PARIS--"I think it was a good match when they chose me," Manish Arora said after his first show at the helm of Paco Rabanne, which has not shown ready to wear since 2006. A good match, indeed. Arora, whose own line is known for campy showmanship, a yen for the sci-fi, and the use of vivid colors, was well suited to take on the label started by Rabanne in 1966.
Rabanne's first revolutionary collection in 1966 was called "12 unwearable dresses"--dresses made of unconventional materials like metal and plastic. Arora's debut collection for the line paid homage to that first Rabanne collection with paneled chain mail dresses that fit like gloves. "The workmanship is similar [between my own line and Paco Rabanne's]," Arora said. "We like to work hard, we like to make dresses that take 25 people and 20 days to make and that's the value of Paco Rabanne that I appreciate and that's the common factor."
Light was paramount to the collection, Rabanne said, and futuristic mini dresses with exaggerated hips and strong shoulders were done in shiny high gloss materials that reflected the neon lights of the entrance space of the Centre Pompidou museum, the appropriate modern setting for show.
If nothing else, Arora, whose own collection for spring featured hookahs down the runway, knows how to put on a show. And putting on a big show is a smart move when reviving a line. Models descended to the runway on escalators. Arora had Philip Treacy design flying saucer hats with slits for models' eyes (Rabanne was known, infamously, for his interest in paranormal phenomena) and Nicholas Kirkwood design crystal heels. For the show stopping finale, Arora sent out 11 black models (noticeable only for the general lack of black models on the runways) dressed up like fantastical flowers from the future with massive circular metallic collars. The audience broke out into spontaneous applause. Gaga, Nicki, are you watching?