Many designers have tried to cultivate the middle ground between couture and ready-to-wear, including, as of this week, Emanuel Ungaro. On Tuesday, the semiretired designer presented his semicouture, 30 limited-edition pieces inspired by his greatest hits, on mannequins in his Avenue Montaigne showroom. The clothes can be custom ordered throughout the year and cost considerably less than the pieces in his earlier haute couture collections. A gold satin top trimmed with lace and appliquéd with butterflies, for example, will cost about $2,300, while a draped, sculpted evening dress will go for $17,000. (The couture prices ran from about $19,500 to $130,000 at current exchange rates.)

To make up the designs from the new collection, the clients’ measurements will be taken, but there will be no additional fittings, and items such as Ungaro’s floral-embroidered tweed jacket, a pretty polkadotted cocktail dress and a silk kimono coat will be ready in four or five weeks. As the editions of 10 or 12 per design are bought up, new looks will be added to the line every few months. And it seems that there are enough curious clients in Paris to jump-start the new venture. On the first day of sales, 10 Ungaro-loving ladies booked appointments to see the new line in the house’s salon.

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