NEW YORK — The great thing about Emanuel Ungaro coming to town is that his clients never fail to follow, wearing a virtual retrospective of his career.
That was certainly the case on Tuesday night at Pratt Institute’s annual Legends dinner, where women in Ungaro’s signature vivid suits and dresses rushed to the designer in a blur of floral prints — a subtle tribute to the Rainbow Room venue. Mica Ertegun, Lynn Wyatt, Catherine Hamilton and Lisa Vreeland (albeit in chic black) each embraced the designer, although his attention was turned to a bright red pocket square haphazardly crammed into the tuxedo jacket of Richard Meier.
Ungaro plucked the square from Meier’s pocket, demonstrated the proper fold and returned it to the architect, who was clearly delighted with the display.
“I am so happy to be here,” Ungaro said, standing with his wife, Laura. He noted that this was his first appearance in New York in more than three years. He was in town to receive an award from Pratt, along with Meier, photographer Victor Skrebneski and advertising executive Stan Richards.
Recounting his trip, Ungaro detailed his visit to Spice Market, the überhip Meatpacking District restaurant where he ran into Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg; another dinner hosted by Alexander and Lisa Vreeland; a luncheon at ‘21’ for the launch of his latest fragrance, Apparition, and, when he found the time, a visit to a museum far off the beaten path of his clientele. Ungaro spent Monday afternoon in Queens’ Long Island City neighborhood, where he toured the Museum for African Art.
“There was nobody inside,” Ungaro said. “It was so very strange. There was just one other man, and then another who was in charge of selling books who was from the Côte d’Ivoire [Ivory Coast]. I am very surprised that, especially in New York, there is not more of a museum of African art.”
Admittedly, Ungaro is something of an aficionado on the subject, having a large collection of African art at his home in Paris and being a big supporter of efforts to increase such collections at the Louvre. During his speech to accept the Legend award, he also spoke warmly of the fraternity that he felt with New York upon seeing the Statue of Liberty again.
“To be here is a great honor I never expected,” Ungaro said of the award.