HOT TIMES
PARIS FASHION IN ALL ITS INFINITE VARIETY COULDN’T BE HOTTER. SO IT ISN’T SURPRISING THAT TWO MASTERS AT TURNING UP THE HEAT — VALENTINO AND EMANUEL UNGARO — DID COLLECTIONS THAT LET OFF A LITTLE STEAM.

EMANUEL UNGARO: Wow! It was, quite simply, Emanuel Ungaro’s best collection in years. Recently, Ungaro has begun paring down his collections — the fabric mixes, the exotic flourishes. For spring, that new direction culminated in a smart, savvy lineup that was like a breath of fresh air — and a sexy breath, at that. That’s not to say that Ungaro’s gone minimal. In fact, shortly before his show, he boasted of being a maximalist, and the clothes he showed were anything but plain.
He opened with a series of super-short, tight, shirred dresses in snappy prints, some with matching jackets. These were all about a spirited sexiness, and in a season filled with high concepts, there’s a lot to be said for some good old sex appeal. To drive home his youthful message, Ungaro sent out a group of faded jeans with bugle-beaded flowers that were worn with lean tweed jackets. Then there were lace-trimmed lingerie pieces in vibrant silks, as well as smartly tailored suits, often worn with flirtatious silk tops.
Of course, Ungaro didn’t squelch his exotic urges completely. He still went for some of those elaborate mixes, mostly in rich earth tones. And if he occasionally went a little mad with the mood, many of the individual pieces were appealing and versatile. Ungaro’s eveningwear looked great, most of it in shirred chiffon florals. But it was with two utterly chic draped dresses, one in black and one in red, that this maximalist went for maximum effect.
VALENTINO: Hot stuff — in fact, Valentino closed the Paris collections with some of the steamiest stuff of the season. And if it was just too darned hot for some, so what? Val’s gals don’t buy into all that spiritual, intellectual fashion — pure pretense! What they buy into — and they buy a lot — are clothes that let their own best assets do the talking. And that’s exactly what Valentino sent out in droves. The show started discreetly enough — relatively speaking — with beautifully cut coats, suits and dresses. That everything was practically epoxied to the body was just a hint of things to come: Valentino has two favorite proportions — tight and tighter.
And he holds to the belief that, more often than not, more is more. That meant beaded, fringed cowgirl skirts and racy cutout pieces in pastels, black and white. On a more exotic note, there were dresses bedazzled with giant beaded likenesses of lions and tigers and snakes — oh, my! For more relaxed moments, Valentino showed some gentle sweaters and a handful of roomier suits. And for night, there were glimpses of utter refinement — chic columns in dusty pastels or bright red.
But then out came Stella Tennant for the finale in a white tiered, cutout fringed slipdress and a hundred-gallon cowboy hat. She struck a major model pose alone on the runway and waited for her colleagues to join her. When they didn’t, she turned around, yelled and motioned to them to get moving. A perfect ending, since, like Stella, Valentino’s ladies are anything but reticent.

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