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.Karl's Sweet Sirens

As Karl Lagerfeld likes to say, "I was made for the battlefield." On Tuesday morning, he headed into the fray once again and this time, emerged victorious. He sent out a Chloe collection that was sweet but not saccharine -- "farm girl meets sexy siren," according to Virginie Viard, Karl's Chloe muse and head of the house's design studio.

The mood was light, right from the start, when projected doves flew over the stage set -- a trellis arch covered with white blossoms. The first girls pranced out in short, swingy tent dresses in sheer wool gauze flecked like Donegal tweed. They all wore tight chignons with wide twirled metal curls in their hair.

Karl's knits were great: cropped dark gray sweaters over lighter gray knit dresses with ribbed tights for day, and short metallic taffeta skirts for night. Then there were those terrific handpainted shetlands over hot little lace skirts, perfect for the sweet-tart of Sigma Chi. It all came in the prettiest pastels -- accented mostly with coral from the eyeshadow right down to the thick tights and velvet bootie-sandals.

There was a decidedly cleaned-up feeling to this collection. Lagerfeld's suits, some pinstriped, are as graceful as can be, but this time there's a little less flow. He kept the skirts very short and sometimes, on the tight side.

For evening, Karl still loves his Greek maidens, but he doesn't put them in nightgowns anymore. This time, it was draped columns, in panne velvet printed with forest scenes, and long layers of dreamy white knits and chiffons. Karl's finale was a kingdom's worth of sparkling snow queens with silver and gold dresses under fluffy silver-dusted fake fur wraps.

Balmain: Seventh-On-Seine

You have to give Oscar de la Renta credit for making it simple and easy for women to get dressed. Everybody loves Oscar for that, including his front-row ladies: Pamela Harriman, Cristiana Brandolini, Isabelle d'Ornano, Maryll Lanvin, Susan Gutfreund and Marybonne Pinault. And that's just fine, as far as it goes. But it's not enough for a Paris runway. If Oscar is going to stay in the big leagues, he's got to do more than those familiar suits and fluffy party dresses.Neiman's Post: WhoWill Do Dallas?

Some of the American retail executives in Paris for the collections seemed to squirm a bit when asked if they were interested in the soon-to-be vacant ceo post at Neiman Marcus.

Rose Marie Bravo, Saks president, said: "I really can't comment."

Michael Gould, chairman and ceo of Bloomingdales, said, "I was surprised to see my name listed as a candidate. Sure, it's a very interesting position, but I like my own job, thank you very much."

Philip Miller, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks, told WWD after the Emanuel Ungaro show in Paris: "I'm not interested. I'm very happy where I am."

None of these three would say whether they have been in contact with Robert Tarr, president and ceo of Harcourt General and its Neiman Marcus Group, who is expected to begin the job search this week.

Burton Tansky, chairman and ceo of Bergdorf Goodman, a division of the Neiman Marcus group, said: "I really don't want to get into this discussion. Sure I talk to Robert Tarr. I do so often, because he's my boss. But I don't want to make any comment."

"I'm tired and I'm sick of people asking me. I don't want to get into it," said a weary Joe Cicio, chairman and ceo of I. Magnin.

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