Ungaro breezes back after years in 'fashion Siberia'

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The Independent Online

Fashion's fickle nature is nowhere more evident than in the reaction to Emanuel Ungaro, the French label that unveiled its autumn/winter collection in Paris yesterday.

Throughout the mid-Nineties, the clashing prints, colliding colours and exuberance that has made the Ungaro name were consigned to fashion Siberia. A neutral colour palette, clean line and nothing as tastelessly ornamental as a button were the order of the day at the time, preferably branded with the names Jil Sander, Helmut Lang or Calvin Klein.

Today, though, ornamentation is fashionable once more, particularly as exhibited by one of the big French houses which have the craftsmanship to make such things look delicate as opposed to plain vulgar.

With this in mind, it's perhaps small wonder that Ungaro's latest offering was so well received. The woman who wears this particular label won't be disappointed with an old gold brocade jacket and pair of caramel leather trousers, tucked into outrageously luxurious cream, baggy leather, knee-high boots. She'll covet the handbag dripping with long leather fringes, also gold, that finished the look. Et voila! She's off for a long lunch.

For a more overtly feminine appeal, she'll throw on a fine chiffon dress, worn falling off one shoulder sexily and scattered with sequins and sparkle: she loves the way it flutters around her prettily when she walks. And even on more sober days, when her clothes are inky black, texture will more than make up for any lack of colour: a chiffon blouse had a single sleeve dense with more chiffon petals; a black coat was tied with a plaited belt and embellished with inky tassels.

The cleverest thing about Ungaro is the way in which both the house's namesake, who now only designs the haute couture, and Giambattista Valli, who is responsible for the ready-to-wear line and designed this most recent collection, have softened the label's vibrancy to suit more contemporary tastes.

Today richness of colour and texture at Ungaro is romantic as opposed to riotous. This is, of course, entirely of the moment, although it presumably won't be long before fashion, once again, moves on.