Wed, Oct 06, 2010 - Page 13 News List

Giles Deacon’s debut revives moribund Ungaro

AP, Paris

A model presents a bag by Emanuel Ungaro during Paris Fashion Week.

Photo: EPA

After the “Lohan incident” — an ill-fated ploy to rejuvenate the foundering House of Ungaro by teaming up with the tabloids’ favorite starlet, Lindsay Lohan — many in the fashion world wrote the label off as dead.

But British designer Giles Deacon pulled off the apparently impossible on Monday at Paris Fashion Week, breathing new life into the moribund brand with a ravishing spring-summer 2011 ready-to-wear collection.

For his debut effort for Ungaro, Deacon hosted a cocktail party, where models in airy concoctions of chiffon, tweed and ostrich feathers sipped champagne inside a glass hothouse as buyers and journalists, also sipping champagne, looked on. The clothes, sheath dresses and frothy cocktail numbers hit the sweet spot, managing to live up to the house’s sensual heritage and not looking either cheap or stodgy.

It was a score for Deacon, who managed what the revolving door of designers before him — and particularly short-lived “artistic adviser” Lohan — couldn’t.

Giambattista Valli’s retro cocktail dresses looked aimed to seduce approximately the same demographic as the new Ungaro collection — the elite cadre of jet-set party girls for whom cocktail parties are a way of life. The Italian designer fielded out a toned-down collection of wispy white dresses so short that fabulous legs were an absolute prerequisite to even dream of donning them.

Good legs were of the essence at Stella McCartney, too. Many of her relaxed, late 1970s-steeped looks had slits that cut up the models’ legs to their pelvis, with a strange panel of fabric that dangled strangely between their legs like a sort of elongated loincloth.

The 1970s were also in the air at Yves Saint Laurent. The Paris label’s demure poplin dresses and A-line wrap skirts were all demure Paris housewife circa the early 1970s from the front, but left the back exposed.

Leonard proved that remaining true to one’s self is the best strategy. With the house’s trademark 1970s vibe taking catwalks in Milan and London by storm, the Paris-based label suddenly found itself spot on-trend.

Chloe, the house whose unique winter collection helped launch the current camel craze, jumped on the minimalist bandwagon with looks that were a tad too close to cross-town rival Celine for comfort.

Newcomer Caroline Seikaly, who made a splash in the US after Madonna donned one of her creations in black lace, fielded a lovely collection of refined dresses and gowns in featherlight chiffon and lace.

Seikaly, who’s half-French, a quarter-American and a quarter-Lebanese, received journalists and buyers for her debut Paris presentation — despite being nine months pregnant: The willowy 36-year-old designer cut her teeth at Lagerfeld Gallery and was her own fitting model before her pregnancy.

She said that being a woman gives her a special insight into what women are looking for in a dress. (She almost only creates dresses, and presented her first ever pairs of pants with Monday’s collection.)

“I like things to be really light and lacy, very feminine and really flattering,” she said. “My mission is to make women look and, more importantly, feel great.’’ Judging from the pastel-clad models at the presentation, that mission was accomplished.

After the days’ shows, the fashion crowd descended on H&M’s new Paris boutique for the inauguration celebration. Celebrity architect Jean Nouvel designed the new building, on the famed Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

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