By  on January 11, 2005

PARIS — Vincent Darré, the new artistic director of Emanuel Ungaro, did not mince words when asked if one can expect a change in direction at the French fashion house.

“Radical change,” he assured during an exclusive preview last week of the pre-fall Emanuel Ungaro collection, his first effort since succeeding Giambattista Valli in October. “I am interested in another woman. There’s a lot of tailoring, and more daywear. And it’s perhaps less sexy.”

Darré said he aims to refresh the company’s couture roots, and the timeless innovation and elegance that Ungaro achieved when he launched the house in 1967.

To wit: Among Darré’s first orders of business was to plunge into the archives to rediscover Ungaro’s “incredible prints” and inimitable tailoring style of the Sixties and Seventies.

Most recently a creative consultant to Moschino, Darré has also worked alongside Karl Lagerfeld (at Fendi and Chloé) as well as at Yves Saint Laurent, Blumarine and Prada. His appointment at Ungaro marks the first time the fashion world will discover Darré’s design sensibility solo. So what exactly is it?

Darré paused, stiffened in his slim black tuxedo jacket, and then offered: “What I think I brought to Moschino was an elegance that was very Parisian. Here it will be more evident because the house is Parisian.”

While enamored of the couture world as depicted in old movies — and practiced by greats like Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent and Ungaro — Darré said he harbors no ambitions to do high fashion himself. “That’s another education,” he said. “Today we are brought up in the world of ready-to-wear.”

Still, he said he is thrilled that Ungaro, currently working on a semi-couture project, is present in the house, and that couture represents a benchmark ideal that he hopes to instill in the house, to give the brand a more personal allure.

He said the pre-fall collection was partly inspired by Fassbinder films and his fetish actresses, Ingrid Caven and Hanna Schygulla, who had the style of Hollywood divas “but less decadent and more modern.” That translates into jersey dresses with floral chiffon worked into the seams, and a long black gown decorated haphazardly, as if half-finished, with bows and pleats. But range is paramount, and he said the collection spans all manner of day clothes, including leather and fur garments, as well as handbags and footwear.“I want to push the accessories and they will become more important,” he said.

The fashion world will get Darré’s full-strength vision come March when he presents his fall-winter collection on the runway during Paris Fashion Week.

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