When you think Ungaro, you think mixed prints, sultry color, and outright sexiness. That last element in the mix has been on the back burner since the eye-popping ’80s, but to begin his winter couture show, the designer turned up the flame to scorch mode again. Hot chicks in sparkly mini power suits and black leather thigh boots made a surprising opening for anyone expecting the languid

ries of the past few seasons.

Reclaiming territory that he long ago mapped out as his own, Ungaro followed up with wrapped floral chiffon and silk paisley patchwork scarf dresses—leg-flashing numbers constructed to look as if they might fly off the body at any moment. The designer worked his love of the exotic into collisions of color, pattern and texture, incorporating Eastern influences, embroideries that suggested medieval tapestries and stained glass, and piles of African beads reinterpreted by Erickson Beamon.

Was the strong shoulder line touted by these confident women another flashback to Ungaro’s 1980s? Blouson minidresses, big patchworked fur coats with vast collars, swinging quilted velvet jackets and puffy leg-of-mutton sleeves were certainly edging in that direction. At the same time, though, the designer took care to update his signature points of reference, coaxing them into today’s looser, more casual way of wearing luxe.

Emanuel Ungaro began his career before many of today’s celebrities were even born. But today, he offered plenty of red-carpet-ready reasons—like a dark wine-colored embroidered gown inserted with lace—to make them think of him as a new discovery all their own.