Using the Past to Leverage the Future: Paco Rabanne Buys Back its Archives

Paco Rabanne is under new management. Nadia Dhouib , a Tunisian-French former managing director of Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées has replaced Bastien Daguzan (now CEO) as general manager. 

Dhouib is the founder of RethinkRetail.Advisory, a “go-to destination for executive-led insights into the trends and innovations that are transforming the global retail landscape.”

Rethink Retail is arguably a valuable tool for retailers around the world. Their directory features cutting-edge brands pushing the envelope in retail tech development, including the brand that invented the touchscreen, cloud-based marketing, privacy features, and others.

It’s safe to say that Dhouib is a smart, tech-minded fashion mogul. “Retail isn’t dead – it’s boring,” she told Vogue Arabia. She looks to create an experience for customers, as she emphasized in the article. 

The release of the new NFT collection is certainly far from boring. 

Beyond the 2021 surge in popularity of NFTs, it seems that fashion and NFTs could go hand-in-hand if utilized and marketed properly. A tech-smart fashion businesswoman appears to be the perfect fit for new management. Dhouib was no big name in the rapidly-changing and evolving fashion industry. She’s described in a Vogue article as one who works behind the scenes, a “shadow figure” of the industry–but powerful nonetheless. 

Now she’s being pushed to the forefront. 

Paco Rabanne is Releasing NFTs

Paco Rabanne is selling NFTs of its most conceptual archive pieces, with profits funding improvements to its physical archive, says Dhouib via Vogue

The collection is called the “Unwearables,” a name that doubles in meaning. “Wearables” in the NFT industry describes a digital asset that an avatar can wear. It’s much like customizing your Bitmoji, for example, or decking out your 3D Decentraland double in a haloed glow based on Estee Lauder’s bestselling serum. Historically there have been NFT launches of sneakers, the famous iridescence dress, and even digital makeup

The second meaning of the Unwearables collection hearkens back to Paco Rabanne’s history. Rabanne didn’t always go by that name. Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo’s mother was a seamstress at Balenciaga and in 1938 when Fransisco was 5, the pair escaped the Spanish Civil War by fleeing to France. Assuming his namesake, he then trained as an architect before applying his skills to accessory design. 

The brand was always cutting-edge and avant garde

For the debut of his namesake brand in 1966, he presented “Manifesto: 12 unwearable dresses in contemporary materials”, hence the callback to the name of the new NFT collection. 

From Rabanne’s website the brand quotes: “He would experiment with looks made from moulded plastics, hammered metal, aluminum jersey and knitted fur that were at once sculptural and seductive. His iconic chainmail dresses helped define an era of shape-shifting fashion and remain emblematic of the house still today.”

This echoes true for the new NFT collection. 

“Since its creation, Paco Rabanne has been exploring new universes to enter new territories. Paco Rabanne likes to explore worlds where disciplines cross and meet,” says the brand’s recently departed CEO Bastien Daguzan in Vogue. “These 12 NFTs are a way to show Paco Rabanne’s fashion know-how and celebrate the creativity from the archives in a modern grammar.” 

A previous launch in early 2022 was in partnership with retailer Selfridges. Known throughout the world for their spectacular window displays, the brand has always pushed the boundaries of retail. Founded in London by a Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909, the brand has “transformed” the way customers shop. He was one of the first to bring beauty products to the front of a department store to encourage women to try on products. The theatrical nature and interactivity of the displays made shopping there an experience, rather than a simple exchange of money for goods. This rings true to the brand even now, where they remain “Thought-provoking, unconventional and fearlessly creative.” 

The Selfridges display featured art from French-Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely. The mind-bending artworks launched in conjunction with 12 unique Vasarely NFTs. The foray into NFTs goes one step further than recreating Victor Vasarely’s artwork in token form. This NFT series features 12 unique Victor Vasarely artworks, the proceeds of which will go to the Fondation Vasarely, a museum in Aix-en-Provence, France. The collaboration went up along with Paco Rabannes 2022 Spring/Summer collection. 

NFT Proceeds are Going Towards Artwork Restoration

The money goes towards restoration. The damaged artworks are repaired in real time, along with the NFTs. The coded art heals at the same rate as its physical counterpart. 

With this Paco Rabanne launch, it seems that Paco Rabanne took notes on the Vasarely restoration project. In order to repair their archive, the Unwearables NFTs will raise funds to do so. 

Prices for the 56 NFT dresses will start at £600, or about 650 USD. The anticipation of this launch had many excited but was delayed by several weeks, despite a hefty waiting list. 

The launch includes two $200,000 rare virtual pieces attached to a matching bespoke physical version, created in collaboration with Julien Dossena and the French artisans who made the original pieces. The new owners will attend Paco Rabanne’s next runway show. Another batch of NFTs is slated for creation and will be available to wear in different parts of the Metaverse. 

“When I think of Paco Rabanne, I don’t think retro – I think revolution, rebellion and renaissance,” says Julien Dossena, who took the helm of Paco Rabanne in 2014. The quest to buy back and restore their archive is a noble one and surely creates eagerness for NFT collectors and fashion enthusiasts alike.

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