One of the reasons we hold Paris Fashion Week in such high regard is that this is the home of haute couture. While we are always looking for creativity and new styles and design in all four of the major fashion cities, Paris is where we expect edges to be defined, boundaries to be pushed, and whole new concepts of fashion to be presented. Of all the fashion cities, we mind less here when someone such as Rick Owens presents a collection that is totally unwearable because he, and those like him, effectively progress the conversation we have about clothes and their purpose. Paris is the one place where it is okay to take some well-considered risks.
Holding that attitude about the city, though, means we expect designers to deliver their best. Either come at us with something so esoteric that it takes three days to explain, or give us new, wearable translations that make us excited about adding new clothes to our already crowded wardrobe. We don’t really want to see something that is just pretty, and, unfortunately, that is exactly what we get from Emanual Ungaro this season: pretty.
Mind you, there’s nothing patently wrong with this fall/winter collection. Every one of the 40+ pieces is very attractive and creative director Fausto Puglisi has done a masterful job of blending textures with his fabrics. The looks are all stunning, cohesive, and ready to fly off store shelves. This is not a bad collection, it’s just — pretty, and we were hoping for more.
Puglisi starts with combinations of large florals, leopard print, blue fur, and broad jacquard. The silhouettes are very comfortable with mid-calf skirts slit up the left leg, varying jackets with broad lapels, loose-fitting trousers that never fail to be appropriate. His belts are on the broad side, but not too broad as to hint at any ostentation. An intermingling of laser cut lace and thigh-high boots add just a little bit of spice to the recipe without making things too hot.
Sure, there are some sheer blouses in the mix, but they’re all covered. Depending on the woman, some sheer panels in a green floral have the potential for embarrassment, but I’m guessing most the women wearing these styles are likely to have a full slip or other appropriate garment underneath so it really isn’t risky unless one specifically wants it to be. The looks are so commercial, in fact, that one green/blue circular design almost looked like the logo of a certain Seattle-based coffee chain at first glance.
The only thing in this collection that might cause me to hesitate would be the solid metallic skirts that seem a bit stiff. They didn’t walk especially well and seemed a bit too heavy for the overall look. That was the only slow down, though. Even the pastel floral print, which might be considered out of season, is really rather cute and a nice change from all the dark tones.
Puglisi was going for a more romantic feel and I suppose all the lace and maybe the fishnet stockings might fit that bill, but what he ultimately gave us was pretty. In fact, this is one of those few collections which my rather conservative mother would have liked. The jacquards especially would have made her happy. And that’s the problem; were she still living. mom would be 83 years old next month. I’m pretty sure that’s not the label’s target audience.
Puglisi is a talented designer. We’ve seen him do more adventurous things with his clothes. So, to hang around for such a late show and come away with a collection that is simply pretty is a bit disappointing. We’ll hope for something much more lively next season.