Emanuel Ungaro, in Search of an Encore
What do designers do after their shows? Within a day or two Emanuel Ungaro, whose collection got the only standing ovation in Europe this season, was back at work on his next one. "After the show is a difficult moment," said Ungaro. "You don't know where you are, what to do. You are not in control. It's terrible, too, because you do not understand why." He is particularly confused by the fact that he has done clothes in the same spirit for so many years, and only now has been so universally acclaimed. "Before now the eyes were dusty. Now suddenly everyone accepts what I have done." He's not angry. "The past is past," he says.
The week before the show "we knew we had something special," said Ungaro. "But we suffered in July and August. I was so nervous and aggressive with my people. The couture collection was such a huge success I was afraid for the next."
Ungaro admits his swimsuit-length dresses were strictly for the show, "to express a certain feeling, a way of being young, simple and beautiful. They are not for customers over 22, and we have a lot of them ... not for everyone." In fact he will show some ankle-length skirts for next fall, in fluid fabrics like wool challis. "I will do both short and long. We are not in the business of dictating anymore," he said. But long or short, the clothes will always be sensual and seductive. "It it part of my discourse with a woman."
Beyond his women's and men's clothes, Ungaro has a new project -- a house he has bought in Provence. It is a complete ruin, with a chapel built in the 12th century. He has begun to restore it, doing the home just as he does a collection, choosing the materials, the furniture, the doors and the windows. "I'm so in love with this house."
Flight of Fancy
"Since I am 20 pounds overweight and the only thing left is my face and my legs, I'd better make the best of it," said Barbara de Portago, who was wearing an above-the-knee skirt by Adolfo on the Pan Am flight from Paris to Washington last week. Portago was acting as wine expert, serving the red wine Mon Bouquet to first- and cabin-class passengers. Among them were Reza Pahlavi II, the son of the late shah of Iran, who announced several months back that he was waiting to reclaim the throne, and Val Cook of Saks-Jandel, who was on her way home from the Paris shows. Cook and Pahlavi chatted about clothes a bit, since his wife is a customer at Saks-Jandel. He said he noticed the return of the miniskirt in the televised Academy Awards. "I don't mind," he told Cook with a grin.
YSL: To Market, to Market?
Stock market prices going up and down more dramatically than hemlines these day are taking their toll on the fashion business. Pierre Berge, business partner of Yves Saint Laurent, is particularly concerned; the company is to go public Dec. 1. "If the market is still so volatile, we will postpone our plan to go public at this time," said Berge before the YSL show.
Designers in Paris, London and Milan have gone giddy over Spanish styles, perhaps influenced by the styles of Paris designer Christian Lacroix, or perhaps by the exhibits of Spanish paintings in several European cities. "Designers just like a good excuse to go to hot climates," explains Bernie Ozer of Associated Merchandising Corp. "They all seem to love Ibiza and Mexico at the moment."
The designer clothes won't be here for a while, but you don't have to wait to see the real thing. There is a good display of Spanish dance costumes and accessories at the Marvin Center at George Washington University, organized by the Spanish Dance Society. It includes flamenco, regional and classical Spanish dance costumes, all wonderfully colorful, with full skirts and lots of trims, fans, combs and hairpieces. Also on exhibit are pictures of dancers in costume. The show remains open now till Nov. 7.
Notes de la Mode:
Tartans are everywhere in Paris, usedfor backpacks in shops in the Metro, on umbrellas in Prisunic, in fabric stores, as well as all through the Galleries Lafayette. Credit Jean-Paul Gaultier for starting the revival. His yellow and black tartan jacket was worn by several Parisiennes during the shows.
All her life designer Diane von Furstenberg had dreamed of wearing the costume of a matador. Now she has the best, created for her in black velvet and white passementerie embroidery by Christian Lacroix. She was wearing it in Paris last week at a party given by Countess Georgina Brandolini for Valentino.
Fashion designers, with their overcoat-size egos, will rarely admit to having any kind of disability. But Marina Bulgari (called "Marina B."), whose family creates the extraordinary jewelry worn by Jacqueline Onassis, Diana Vreeland and others, will be in Washington next week to receive the Lab School's Outstanding Learning Disabled Achiever Award, along with painter Chuck Close and actress Margaret Whitton.