Feb 27, 2008
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Unapologetically feminine at Ungaro

Feb 27, 2008

PARIS, Feb 27, 2008 (AFP) - The new designer at Emanuel Ungaro literally raced round the runway at the end of his warmly applauded show on Wednesday: he is, after all, only 23.

It's very young to be taking on responsibility for such a heavyweight house, but that did not seem to worry Esteban Cortazar when he spoke to AFP while putting the final touches to his autumn-winter ready-to-wear collection.

"The younger you are the less pressure you feel. Being nervous is exciting, it is part of the process," the Colombian-born British national, brought up in the United States, said. He is already a veteran on the fashion scene, having founded his own label when he was a teenager.

Adapting his own personal aesthetic to the brand "didn't feel like a stretch," he says. "I love nature, I like being happy and seeing happiness come out in clothes."

His ambition is to "bring softness back to the label. The Ungaro woman is effortlessly seductive, unapologetically feminine."

"I want to make Ungaro cool. I want every young girl to want to dress in Ungaro."

His show was unreservedly romantic, full of airy, ultra-feminine designs in light colours. Pretty dresses in a delicate floral print floated down the runway, wisps of silk chiffon fluttering as the models walked to the sound of trickling water.

His comfy winter knits in soft mohair had big, rolled and twisted shawl collars, while the cowl necklines of draped satin jersey could be tucked into the waist. Everything was very fluid: even seams like the boning of a corset gradually softened into fringes.

British designer Adam Jones also went for a romantic look, but with a hard edge. He called his collection "Pre-Raphaelite meets rock'n'roll chick."

His dreamy beauties draped themselves languidly on marble steps. A typical combination was a frothy white pleated organza skirt cut like little fans and trimmed with foxfur topped by a slouchy grey T-shirt with a slogan across the breast. His black and aubergine sweatshirts turned de-luxe with lacquered embroidery inserts.

An oriental-looking print used mostly on leggings was inspired by body tattoos. "I'd been looking at tattoos and dragons came up everywhere. I like the way colours diffuse the skin. It wasn't Asian inspired at all".

But the production is: all the laborious laser-cutting for quilted flowers, like peonies, on his elaborate knitwear is done in China.

Andrew Gn named the influences for his winter collection as "Edwardian, Oscar Wilde, around 1900, and the 18th century."

"It's back to couture, all about garment construction. There are lots of seams, details like braiding and basket-weave, and richness - the lightest cashmere on earth," he told AFP.

He presented a plethora of boleros and redingotes in wool overlaid with lace, with braiding or rosettes all down the front, at the cuffs or filling the necklines, worn over slim cashmere pants.

On slinky satin gowns in plum, forest green and midnight blue, sleeves were a focus of attention, ballooning from the shoulder and drawn tightly in above the elbow with a flat bow.by Sarah Shard

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