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Fashion 88 : Lagerfeld Launches His New Line With a Nautical Accent

Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel moves with the times.

In the spring/summer collection Lagerfeld presented this week, the familiar Chanel details were all there. But they were re-thought and reworked in the context of current fashion trends to make them totally contemporary.

Snug little navy wool jackets over wide-legged, fluid white pants opened the show. From beginning to end, Lagerfeld had his audience, including pop star Boy George, completely captivated.

Basque berets and Chanel’s signature camellia--dyed red, white and blue in honor of next year’s bicentenary of the French revolution--were the nautical accents, as were the squared-off sailor collars on several of the jackets.

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From this crisp beginning, the designer moved into long, languid wool boucle jackets. These, in sky blue or egg yolk yellow, were worn open above white chiffon blouses hung with long ropes of pearls. And they were teamed with low-calf, pleated, ivory georgette skirts.

The newest top, and the one every Chanel customer will want, is the shawl collared, double-breasted mess jacket. While most of the other silhouettes clung to the body, this jacket had a prophetic, loose fit.

Lagerfeld, who likes to stir up fashion mischief--he’s responsible for the current long/short dilemma--tossed out one micro-mini in beige gabardine poplin which looked as if it had wandered onto the runway from another designer’s show. Better, if the designer insists on short, were his clotted cream-color, crepe de chine, ‘30s pleated tennis shorts with matching midshipman blouses.

But these were aberrations. This collection is all about beautiful suits with exquisitely languid shaping. Skirts, if in wool, were just above the knee. If in chiffon or georgette, they floated to low calf.

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Other long, narrow jackets in heavy crepes or silk were sophisticated approaches to the ethnic mood. Lagerfeld’s reinterpretation of a maharajah’s tunic; masses of turquoise bracelets wrapped around the wrist; heads wrapped in trailing chiffon scarfs and gold filigree jewelry studded with ruby and emerald look-alikes.

The designer received a standing ovation for his white chiffon and satin midcalf dresses worn over narrow pants for evening. The dress bodices were reembroidered with white satin roses and the waists were sashed in white satin.

Emanuel Ungaro’s 196 piece collection, presented Tuesday, continues his love affair with the female form. It’s a romance that had runway photographers wolf-whistling at models throughout the show.

No one expects any designer to come up with 196 new ideas in a single season, and Ungaro didn’t. Instead, he repeated the same dress, jacket and skirt shapes in a variety of fabrics, in prints and solids.

As Rose Marie Bravo, chairman of I. Magnin/Bullocks Wilshire said: “This collection is exactly what his customer wants. I loved the prints and the colors and his insistence on what he does best: day dresses and dinner suits.”

The Ungaro woman is definitely not the outdoors type, rather a hot-house flower covered for spring in dresses that drape the hip and bodice in daisy, tulip or pansy prints, topped with form-hugging jackets in Easter egg brights or misty pastels.

If Ungaro is aware of the trends toward loosened silhouettes, wide-leg pants and see-through fabrics, he ignored them. His collection may be the only one in Paris so far not seen through a misty veil of chiffon.

Easy and Pleated Trousers

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Except for a trio of mid-calf, trumpet skirts, he never varied skirt lengths from a hand span above the knees. His trousers continue to be easy and pleated, although a group of harem bloomers and some tight leggings appeared. These were shown with flounced peplum jackets in his signature mix of prints and polka dots.

A group of Balenciaga-inspired chemises were looser fitting than his draped marvels, but still not as free as the tent or pyramid shapes shown elsewhere this season.

The Ungaro accessories: white-frame sunglasses, big button earrings, pale hosiery and sling back, metallic, strappy sandals.

No one wanted to go on the record, but the general feeling after the Valentino show was that it was unfocused and “all over the lot.” Loose shapes, wide shapes, short skirts, longer skirts, all done without the conviction and sureness one expects from this designer.

High on Applause Meter

There were enough looks in this extensive collection to keep his fans happy. The beige and white crepe de chine polka-dotted day dresses were deeply hemmed and cuffed in beige Chantilly lace. The bright, 7/8-length wool toppers over slim skirts and the beautiful white silk blouses drew applause.

Any designer who fills the runway with cute kids, including her own two adorable grandchildren, is taking a big risk. That’s what Sonia Rykiel did at her 20th anniversary show.

The kids, dressed in Rykiel Enfant, her children’s wear collection, stole the show.

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Applause sounded for the designer’s tent shaped sweaters in solid colors, swinging free from a high narrow armhole to just below the waist.

Showing away from the bustle of the tents in the Cour Carre du Louvre was Jacqueline de Ribes who presented her collection at the Grand Hotel, a collection everyone agreed was her best ever. Jack Miles, who buys this line for I. Magnin said: “My ladies will love this.”

Madame de Ribes made no concessions to current trends, but transcended them with simple, elegant day time clothes. Her dresses or suits just cleared the knees. Her specialty is the kind of beautiful evening dress that becomes a permanent part of a woman’s wardrobe. The standouts here were a duo in blush pink: a one shouldered floor length column of crepe and a strapless froth of pink chiffon, draped through the midriff and trailed with a cloud of pink chiffon.


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