In the chaos and confusion of Giles Deacon's debut presentation for Emanuel Ungaro today, the harried fashion flock might have missed the point of the centerpiece, which was a marvelous manifesto for the label's new regime. It featured a pileup of VW's buried under Ungaro's signature daisies, and twisted minds construed it as a sly comment on Lindsay "Herbie Fully Loaded" Lohan's tenure at the house, which has most commonly been written off as a car crash. Out with the new-old, in with the old-new: That was the signal being sent.
One of Deacon's most winning characteristics is his ardent fandom. As a fashion babe in arms, he was drawn to Emanuel's aesthetic, so there was instinct at work in his repurposing of Ungaro codes like the lace, the color, and, most of all, the drape. "Vivaciousness, flirtatiousness, Frenchness," he said, reeling off his aims, while models moved around him. Models? Claudia Mason, Georgina Grenville, Shirley Mallmann, and, most of all, Kirsten Owen in a huge feathered headdress were a few of the fabulous faces he'd rounded up from his fanboy memory, and they, in turn, could all remember walking in shows when Emanuel himself was still at work. "Too classic," one said when asked for her recollections of the clothes back then, but now Deacon's version felt just about right for her.
Maybe all it took was the passage of time. Ungaro's clothes were heavily favored by socialites in the original Age of Excess, and Deacon accurately snared the glitter in a jacket-and-hot-pants set woven by Lesage, or a lace jacket and skirt encrusted with appliquéd flowers. When it came to a more modern girl, he offered Lurex-striped knits, or a dress made up of a flapper fringe of daisy cutouts. Mason sported a tiny black lace sheath dotted with navy blue daisies; Owen's dress was also a sheath, op arty. You could picture the professional party girls in them already, and on that level, the collection was a TKO. But where other women fit into the new Ungaro equation will be the challenge Deacon has to deal with in the months to come.