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Prim and Proper at Emanuel Ungaro

PARIS, March 2, 2005 - A shroud of mystery has recently settled over the House of Ungaro, with the role of the founder at the cornerstone. Wednesday's runway show did quite a bit to shine light on the matter, and while Emanuel Ungaro did not appear at Vincent Darré's début, you got the feeling he was very much present behind the scenes.

The show was staged before a screen that replicated the headquarters at 2, Avenue Montaigne where Ungaro set up shop in the mid 1960s, and program notes said that the collection had been inspired by house archives, and those of Balenciaga, where Ungaro got his start.

And it showed.

Gone was Giambattista Valli's experimental approach, and in was a new look, or should one say an old look. The bias cut jackets tied with bows, and the 60s flower cut outs affixed to skirts did not exactly scream cutting edge.

Darré got Ungaro's vibrant colors and scintillating prints, and he sent out some of the most scrumptiously elegant cocktail dresses one can imagine. Mink trimming and fluttering feathers gave pieces a couture-like finish.

If there was a weak spot to be found, it was in the eveningwear, some of which never quite made it. As one model stumbled along in an emerald-green gown, slowed down to a snail's pace by her ochre high heels, you have to wonder who, if not a pro, could have mastered that tight skirt.

Although the overarching look was timelessly chic, sometimes it takes a little more than just pulling out archival sketches to reinvigorate a label. Be that as it may, this was a strong start for Darré, who more than proved that he can follow marching orders.


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