Irradiated in almost luminous pastel light, the Paco Rabanne show was Julien Dossena’s first in three seasons to be held in front of an audience. That didn’t prevent his collection from feeling like some other-worldly French fantasia—part eighties, part futuristic, daintily whipped up in the colors and flavors of a tray of petit-fours. “For once, I wanted to feel super-free in the way I was working,” said Dossena in a preview. “I was exploring textures and proportions and volumes, trying to reach a balance between conceptual and radical—which I love—and at the same time, femininity and sensuality.”

Out in the daylit world, all these short, glinting confections of pouffe skirts and peplums seem destined for twirls at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Whatever Dossena was thinking about—he said he was led by instinct, not theme—it’s a collection that belongs to the neo-liberation party movement; a mouth-watering invitation for dressing up and dancing, and the flashing of long legs in little skirts and kitten-heeled shoes.

The other context Dossena must have had in mind is that his show was on the eve of the Paris spring haute couture collections. He said he was showing Paco Rabanne ready-to-wear in January instead of on the regular pret-a-porter March schedule in order to make an early head-start on the company’s fall deliveries. Still, there was a lot about his collection which consciously edged on couture territory, upping the creative ante to experiment with new techniques and fabrications. As he put it, he was out to explore “an unexpected affinity or contrast of materials—a collage, a conversation between fabrics.”

Central to it—literally—were midriff sections of knit: “It’s like a tube that is hugging your body in the middle.” Hybrids between knitwear and tailoring created sucked-in torsos above minuscule bubble-skirts. A fluffy bustier of cotton-candy mohair was spliced to a red grain de poudre slit skirt, studded with domed silver buttons. The house chainmail was tailored to the body, then draped and swagged to the side in asymmetric skirt drapes. Some of the tiny skirts trailed flirtatious bows in the back. Pastel dresses sparkled with sugary paillettes; peplums were frosted over in crunchy beads; a white dress looked as if it was layered in filigree cake-icing.

A delicious sight indeed, for a new generation too long starved of the opportunity to get out and celebrate their youth.