Emanuel's Riches

Some designers dabble in the exotic. Emanuel Ungaro lives there. The collection he showed Tuesday was for rich, grown-up women who aren't afraid to be individuals. Ungaro offers them clothes cut with a fine couture hand that absolutely sets them apart from the pack. And after the show, retailers said they should sell up a storm.

Emanuel painted a lavish mosaic of deep tones and rich textures. There was velvet decoupe, printed silk jacquards, the richest tweeds imaginable, suedes with cutout borders, and elaborate embroideries, all mixed together in fluid layers. Ungaro was one of the avatars of the soft suit, and he still loves it. His best jacket was cut with shirttails that breezed over a fine-pleated skirt. He also loved one of the hot looks of the season: fluid pants, which he put under tunics, vests and jackets. On the shapelier side, he did a whole group of tartan plaid jackets, some with flirty back flounces.

For evening, naturally, there were beautiful black dresses, draped to fall into asymmetric hems -- and Ungaro does them better than anyone. He also got into the poetic Renaissance mood that others have been smitten with. Emanuel did it with exquisite beaded black velvet jackets and vests over long, detailed white satin shirts.

But he does love to pile it on. And sometimes Emanuel overdoes things with too many layers which, despite their softness, can get heavy. Few of his looks could walk off the runway and into real life, but then, Ungaro's Ladies know just what works for them.

Hermes: Ticket to Ride

Without abandoning its classic redingotes, Hermes brought out some new, modern shapes in its show Tuesday, like the short, shawl-collar cashmere coat with a drawstring in the back and the side-saddle skirts in suede and lightweight wool. Jackets were updated with curved pockets, body-hugging seams and extra-long lengths. Silk prints were scarce, but those there were got new treatments -- turning up, for example, in the form of elasticized, puckered T-shirts. The leather, suede and lambskin coats and separates were strong, as usual. But then Hermes ventured awkwardly into evening dresses with a hard, architectural approach, folding and twisting black faille and gazar into voluminous shapes that were a bit too far from the stable.

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