After several seasons on the fashion critical-list, the sexy, drapey, polka-dotted legacy of Emanuel Ungaro is at last showing signs of a heartbeat, having been jump-started by new ownership, and fresh design leadership from the Norwegian-American Peter Dundas. The show held out hope that somebody young and hot might finally want to wrap herself in Ungaro, thanks to the collection of Parisian glam-rock chic that came down the red-lacquered runway.
Apparently, what was on display was the result of some emergency surgery: The 40-year-old Dundas only recently resigned from Roberto Cavalli. Still, his extensive experiencewhich includes postings at Gaultier and Lacroixequipped him to create something new but recognizably Ungaro-ish out of the old house standards. He did a good job of referencing the leg-of-mutton-sleeve, tight-waist silhouette from the jacket-and-coat archive, and he even managed to blow the aura of staleness off the signature drapery, which last looked good in the eighties. Old-school onlookers might find fault, since some of this was achieved with wrapping and knotting, rather than fairy-fingered couture techniques. Yet it was precisely those draped dressessome of which contrasted Ungaro's chiffon leopard prints and bold dots in scarflike hip-ties against plain covered-up topsthat made the look suddenly jump to modernity. However, the sexiest numbers by far were those realized entirely in slinky cashmere jersey, over turtlenecksone a short silver-gray one-shouldered affair, and the other a stunning slim full-length lipstick-red gown with an erotically bound waist. It was quite enough to mark Dundas as a name to watch.