March 06, 2003 Paris
By mixing up the fluttery, ruffle-edged printed chiffon with sporty pieces like jersey tanks, big parkas, hoodies and funked-up fur, Giambattista Valli managed to skate clear of the cloying sweetness that sometimes threatens to drown this collection. Valli also turned down the volume on the vibrant Ungaro palette, using subtle layers of grays, bois de rose and greige, interspersed with sparkles of silver and gold lamé. The tops and dresses, with their rippling transparent frills, poet sleeves and flounces were in step with the casual, falling-off-the-shoulder look, and the leggings added the essential kicker to make it all current. Best in show? The casually decorative, tufty gray rabbit furs implanted with trailing chiffon ribbons and some sexy reworkings of the house's signature smoking jackets, cut with draped sleeves.
The 36-year-old Valli is making all the right modernizing moves at Ungarowith one caveat. Fairy tales that go on too long send people to sleep. Next season he needs to take scissors to the plot.