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Ungaro: beautiful and rich, Valentino: beautiful and leggy

March 16, 1997

PARIS (AP) - Want to look rich and spoiled, yet elegant and refined? Women who love to dress up should opt for Italians Ungaro or Valentino whose fall and winter ready-to-wear shows Sunday proved they have the knack to please.

Emanuel Ungaro had the edge in an exciting show. Beginning with plush leopard-spotted straight pants and blazers and coats, he moved into stunning mixes of pretty colored plaids, then on to shimmery, diaphanous and light-hearted evening wear.

All those panther-spot styles looked fresh rather than hackneyed, and the tartan tweeds were temptingly luminous, with dashes of turquoise, hot reds and bright greens.

The cognoscenti rushed backstage to embrace Ungaro.

``Absolutely terrific,″ beamed Joan Kaner, fashion director of the Neiman Marcus stores.

``Adored it, so much of it I could hardly choose,″ enthused film star Anouk Aimee.

The silhouette was simple: lean or slightly flared pants, lots of fitted blazers, skirts around or a few inches above the knee, shoulders just shaped nicely.

Colors in the great tweeds and jerseys ranged around the browns. The fabulous fake crocodile or python suits and coats looked wonderful in Chinese red or deep green.

Shimmery panne or burnt-out velvet pajamas and chiffon combinations were utterly fetching. The current rage for shiny Chinese wear came up in multicolored silk tunics and quilted jackets.

Showers of crystal on a cream silk evening sheath, gowns in mauve and chocolate velvets and silks, a fitted black chiffon sheath circled in diamante effects, like comet tails, were all contemporary and wearable. High-heeled boots or graceful sandals are de rigueur for this sophisticated collection.

Valentino’s girls were minxy, leggy rich kids, mincing along in dagger heels and short skirts.

They strode out in micro slip-dresses edged with lace or revealing a trace of chiffon. The fitted long jackets often came with deep decolletes, and lots of feather-boa effects _ a favorite for next season’s glamour crowd.

Refined couture details appeared in shades of copper and brown burnt-out velvet, great lashings of matte gold, subtle combinations of brown or sand and mauve or lavender.

Valentino too showed some Chinese-style jackets in brocade, but with taffeta flounced miniskirts.

Valentino’s favorite siren red came out in a crepe flared-skirt mini. But he also stunned the audience with a slinky bronze laminated silk sheath, the high-tech fabric giving it a statuesque touch.

At Gres, young designer Frederic Molenac took a more sober path with pared-down styles that were simple, yet chic.

A belted viscose mustard jacket over stretch jersey pants with a swirled optics effect looked youthful, as did the burnt orange viscose pants with just a slight flare and split at the instep.

His cut-out or draped satin-leather evening dresses _ one creamy model with a bow at the nape of the neck, another with a simple drape _ faintly echoed Mme. Gres herself.

Molenac has obviously combed her archives, but wouldn’t dare try to imitate the late, great Gres, best-known for her body-sculpting, Grecian-drape couture.

At Cerruti, many admired the slightly flared pants, the reversible look in some jackets, the embroidered light chiffon dresses created by designer Narciso Rodriguez. The gray, black and white was relieved by at least one beautiful, simple flared evening dress in poppy red.

``It’s refined, sensual and modern,″ said Marie-Jose Eymer, publisher of the fashion magazine, l’Officiel de la Mode. ``My daughter thinks it looks very American, and that’s an accolade.″

Japanese Yohji Yamamoto was applauded for his striking collection of glamour girls featuring lots of fur trim on mid-calf skirts or curvy, long black jackets.

Here again, the fox furs, marabou or ostrich feathers gave the more fitted clothes a vintage movie-queen appeal.

This both keeps alive a nostalgia for the old days of couture and tempts young women with a yen for glamour as fashion moves toward the millennium.

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