Back when I was in fashion school, one of my classmates was doing a thesis on the designer Paco Rabanne. We spent countless sleepless nights in the sewing lab together, me perfecting my french seams and she connecting hundreds of thousands of metal links, faithfully recreating the iconic designer’s famously fabric-less frocks.Since then I’ve had a fascination with Paco Rabanne’s work. Known as the ‘Metal Worker’, Paco came to fame in the 1960’s, when progressive engineers in every field were focusing on innovation and new technology. Those were the days when remarkable achievements were being made in space, and that backdrop inspired artists like Paco to eschew traditional techniques and materials. He overturned the long-held assumption that clothes had to incorporate fabric and thread, his plastic and metal dresses reminiscent of an android’s glowing hard skin in science fiction fantasies.Today, the house that Paco Rabanne built is undergoing an exciting revitalization. A talented new designer, Lydia Maurer ~ who has worked under Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy ~ has taken the reins and is reinventing the brand’s classics, infusing them with a new softness and youthfulness. Rather than completely overhauling the archives, she’s reimagining their signature silhouettes and techniques, replacing some of the metal with silicone, silk and guipure lace. It’s a more sensual version of Rabanne’s oeuvre, something lighter and more poetic. She’s imbuing a sweetness into Paco’s visionary perversions.On our recent trip to France, Jamie and I were invited into the Paco Rabanne studio. It was a week before the team was set to unveil their Spring 2013 collection at Paris Fashion Week, and everyone was calmly buzzing about in preparation. Honored by this unprecedented access, we quietly watched as this incredible team of artisans put the final touches on many months’ worth of work ~ and I even lent a hand with a few key links!|PHOTOS| by Jamie Beck
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