Ungaro serves up red-carpet glitz for starlets

By Susannah Frankel,Fashion Editor
Thursday 23 January 2003 01:00
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The Oscar ceremony looms and these days, haute couture is where Hollywood's most glamorous look for their wardrobe. But so far, anything as simple as a drop-dead gorgeous, flesh-revealing frock has been hard to spot at this season's collections in Paris.

Versace – traditionally the label of choice for any size-zero starlet worth her salt – showed a mere 10 looks. Dior is only ever going to be popular with the exceptionally bold. Chanel's evening dresses were so frilly and flouncy they threatened to upstage their wearer.

Enter Emanuel Ungaro, one of Paris's few remaining true couturiers, who showed yesterday and is fast becoming a favourite with Hollywood's beautiful people. They won't be disappointed in a feather-light black backless silk chiffon gown, a poppy red alternative that gathered into a huge rose behind, and beaded and embroidered lace in muted antique colours. Equally delicious were the 1930s inspired satin petticoat dresses in chartreuse, lilac, peach, plum and fondant pink. Ungaro has been in this business for 30 years and it showed. Tailoring was exemplary and the use of colour confident and bold. A witty twist came in the form of embroidered lips trailing a cigarette which appeared here, there and everywhere, and crystal hands with ruby nails clasping models' waists.

Julien Macdonald showed his haute couture collection for Givenchy late on Tuesday under a cloud of controversy. Givenchy executives strongly denied rumours that his time at the label was running out and were out in force to show their support

But what of the clothes? The Welsh-born designer whose work has, for the most part, met with a cool reception, continues to struggle to find an identity for the Givenchy name and this was only a patchy move forward. Cocktail dresses, mainly in black, showed more sophistication and discipline than is usual.

Trench coats in snakeskin and silk were a welcome addition too although a backless tailored skirt suit with trench detailing showed its debt to Jean-Paul Gaultier.

It seems strange, given Macdonald's reputation as creator of flesh-revealing eveningwear, this part of the show was less successful. Suffice to say, Oscar hopefuls are unlikely to find their show-stopping outfit here.

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