FRILLS AND FURBELOWS, HORSE ATTITUDES OR CHIC CALM
EMANUEL UNGARO FAVORED RUFFLES AND FLOURISHES, WHILE VERONIQUE BRANQUINHO HAD A STYLISH SERENITY, STELLA MCCARTNEY WENT ALL OUT WITH AN EQUESTRIAN THEME FOR CHLOE AND MARTINE SITBON MIXED THE FIFTIES AND EIGHTIES.
Emanuel Ungaro: Calling all frill seekers — has Emanuel Ungaro got a collection for you. Let others straddle the two worlds of butch and babe; Ungaro wants a woman to indulge her feminine side at every turn.
And turns there were — along with flowers, ruffles, appliques, beading and a hefty dose of pink tiger stripes. Ungaro’s opening gave new meaning to the term fancy pants, in a gold Lurex cha-cha number with ruffled peach chiffon tuxedo stripes down the sides. Offbeat show item or wardrobe staple? Apparently, Ungaro thinks the latter, because he reworked the shape in countless combinations, an item so goofy it was easy to miss the languid sensuality of the delicate camisoles and cardigans on top.
Unfortunately, that unnecessary tug-of-war between frilly folly and genuine glamour dominated the collection. Ungaro’s perfect draping and exquisite feel for textural play are divinely distinctive. For spring, he offered a wealth of gorgeous dresses — a lively pink floral halter, a dazzling embroidered sheath and an elegant halter gown in chiffon. And because sometimes flou just won’t do, he offered sleek suits, if often in unmanageable colors.
But in the end, all of the overstatement got in the way. At some point, even the most unbridled eccentric must exercise restraint. After all, how many women really want a closet dominated by a sorbet and Easter-egg palette? If only Ungaro would stop the labored editorial madness, the true beauty of his clothes would be more easily relished.
Veronique Branquinho: Moments of serenity — who doesn’t long for them? In fashion as in life in general, such moments come far too infrequently, both in the show-a-minute scheduling of collections, and on the runways, where designers pull out all the stops to land the greatest editorial punch.
How interesting that one of fashion’s youngest players has taken it upon herself to offer chic calm amidst the chaos. Last spring, Veronique Branquinho shed her post-adolescent Goth shell to reveal a classical core, establishing herself as a major star along the way. For spring, she continued the mood with an elegance atypical of someone her age and level of experience.
In a beautiful, graceful collection, Branquinho drew on masculine and feminine elements without gimmicks or kitsch. Her dresses and skirts had a surreal, dreamlike quality in their understatement — subtle interest delivered in pleats, tucks and gently elongated torsos, often with loose, flyaway sleeves or gentle overlays on skirts emphasizing the airiness. Her sweaters were simple but not plain, with surplice wraps or thin straps creating interest in front.
Branquinho’s tailored clothes looked austere without harshness, and she pulled off a few difficult ideas — sleeveless suit jackets, for example. Throughout, the intelligent simplicity called to mind the work of another woman, one who’s sitting this season out — Jil Sander. And smart it was. The different drummer always gets noticed, and while Branquinho may bang her drum softly, it’s a beat that fashion needs.
Chloe: Unlike her horsey English peers, Stella McCartney isn’t the side-saddle type. She likes her horses wild and on the stampede, and for the spring Chloe collection, McCartney sent out everything — well, just about everything — covered with their galloping silhouettes. Chiffon tops were graced with one glittering horse’s head on each shoulder, while sexy dresses provided an expanse where those pintos could race from hem to bodice. A rearing red bronco could be found right on the rear pocket of her perfect dark denim jeans.
When she moved away from the corral, she showed gorgeous chiffon tops that trailed their shoulder bows in the wind, some wacky pina-colada swimwear and a smattering of the rocker clothes — sexy tops and tight jeans — she’s known for. McCartney also took a detour down the retro road. And one has to wonder why this designer, whose strength is sexy clothes, would send out pagoda-shouldered jackets and Fifties-style nubby suits and coats that were dowdy with a capitol D.
But McCartney was back to her bucking broncos before long, switching to images of the beast lifted from classical paintings. You could say it was a one-trick pony, or — to mention another equestrian pun — that wild horses just carried her away.
Martine Sitbon: There’s more than one way to work up a petticoated party dress, and Martine Sitbon likes hers disheveled and debauched, Eighties style. She covered a pink sundress with a spray-painted black grid and sent out a crinkled sateen motorcycle jacket over a crumpled swingy number in black, building up volume with layers of chiffon and lace, and then letting bits of them peek out from underneath. Beyond these, there were minidresses and T-shirts printed with floral-like swirls and a sequined black crow motif. It all spoke to some of the season’s biggest trends: Fifties via the Eighties and clothes with a melancholy bent. Dabbling in dishevelment and despondency, however, can make things sloppy fast. And in this collection, sometimes it did.