Paris Fashion Week – The day fashion ended

Many believe that modern fashion began with the rigorous Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, who subsequently passed on his experience to Emanuel Ungaro. So you’ll be forgiven for coming over faint when you hear that Ungaro is now under the creative directorship of one Lindsay Lohan.

Since the retirement of Emanuel Ungaro the label has languished with a revolving door of designers; Peter Dundas is now at Emilio Pucci, while Giambattista Valli designs a successful label under his own name, but none have succeeded in making Ungaro creditable or profitable. The latest designer, Esteban Cortazar, who was appointed in 2007, was fired after his refusal to work with actress Lindsay Lohan.

Lohan was offered the appointment by Ungaro’s president and CEO, Mounir Moufarrige, the same man who slotted a certain pop star’s daughter into the top job at Chloé a decade ago, replacing Karl Lagerfeld. Subsequently, Lohan was appointed Artistic Director, working with new head designer Estrella Archs, a veteran of the Prada, Hussein Chalayan and Nina Ricci design studios, who was hired hastily to replace Cortazar.

As a show it was underwhelming and, even though they had only three weeks to put it together, I think perhaps they should have waited until next season. Visitors to the Emanuel Ungaro studio during the hectic last days of preparations for this collection noticed that while Archs put the finishing touches to the clothes, Lohan was nowhere to be seen. Not that Lohan was neglecting her duties: she was to be found on Twitter, fulfilling her role by inviting celebrity friends such as Lily Allen to the show.

Well, how to make an impression the first time you are let loose on a Parisian catwalk? Sequinned nipple stickers should do it.

Swathed in shocking pink, the room in the Carousel du Louvre bore little, if any, resemblance to the shows Emanuel Ungaro himself used to put on.

Of course it was a label famed for its colour and there was plenty of that: a pink strapless mini dress wrapped in fuchsia chiffon for a start, but the initial hope was very quickly dashed by ruched chiffon trousers in bright blue or orange worn with silk collarless matching blouses and billowing pink genie pants with wide, gathered waistbands below scarlet bra tops.

It was fun, maybe, for LA girls wanting plenty of ideas in their wardrobe to cover several parties a night, every night: one-shouldered white ones, sparkly, tight striped ones, flowing peach chiffon ones – but it didn’t go much beyond that.

Leather jackets with swatches cut out to show a sparkly inner layer gave a bit of bling, while black tuxedo jackets whose lapels were two halves of a red sequined heart injected some humour to the collection and bulging fur stoles thrown over one shoulder signaled that if not exactly chic, these girls were certainly rich.

Ungaro is a house deserving of the respect it once held and Spanish designer Estrella Archs, brought in just weeks ago to replace her successor, would do well to dress more than just Lohan-a-likes. My absolute detest of “celebrities” entering the fashion industry doesn’t blind me to the fact that this was probably a shrewd business move. Obviously, for the first time in several years, Ungaro will get written up everywhere. Is this enough to sustain a venerable French house? Of course not.

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