Ungaro throws Paris garden party

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Summer came to town on Monday as Emanuel Ungaro's new designer Giles Deacon threw a garden party in Paris, showcasing a high-society look that was all flowers, glitter and delicate lacework.

The British designer chose to skip the catwalk in favour of a live display, with models sipping champagne around a montage of flower-covered old cars -- Beetles and a yellow camper van -- with giant butterflies poking out the top.

A whiff of the 1920s filled the vast glass venue, as models showed off black cocktail dresses of elaborate, see-thru lace embroidery, worn with dangling crystal earrings and hair in a single rolled plait over the forehead.

Shiny black tweed shorts were paired with a longer jacket and sparkling black heels, while a statuesque toga dress in ice blue left one shoulder bare, with flounced drapes on the other, and gathered in a knot at the waist.

Day-side, there were short, embroidered dresses in pastel tones of salmon pink or turquoise, while a delicate, salmon pink silk skirt and jacket had fine lace adorning the rim of a low plunging V-neck.

Fish-net tights for all, flower patterned or polka-dotted stilettos, puffed-out ostrich feathers on a head-dress, skirt or jacket, and the occasional pair of outsized, ornamental sunglasses finished off the look.

For his first ready-to-wear line for the Paris fashion house, where he took over this summer, Deacon said he wanted to "reinterpret the sensuous, soft, vivaciousness that Mr Ungaro was known for."

Intricate lace-work and embroidery -- "beautiful things that are synomymous with Ungaro" -- provided the starting point, the designer said.

And the garden party setting was a way to let "people see the workmanship, up front and close."

"I wanted it to be good fun, colourful -- something a bit quirky. It was really important for the first outing," the designer added.

In an extra twist, Deacon had career and non-professional models mingling on the indoor lawn -- chatting to guests and plucking the odd macaroon from trays passed around the room.

"I design for women. I'm not intent on designing for infants," explained the designer, who called on personal friends incuding the fashion director of Vogue Japan, Anna Dello Russo, to model for him.

"Women are a lot of different ages and shapes -- what is important is that they have strong personalities," he said.

Deacon's offbeat casting was the latest example of a growing trend, after Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquiere who hired non-professionals -- including a pregnant Miranda Kerr -- and Jean-Paul Gaultier who used plus-sized models.

Dello Russo -- who carried a toy, pink lamb with polka-dotted hooves and scarf hooked under her arm as an accessory -- told AFP she "accepted to play, to pretend to be a model for a day -- because why not?"

© 2010 AFP

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