Fashion throws up some very sad sights. It was Oscar de la Renta who coined the phrase 'Fashion victim' with publisher John Fairchild, glancing around at the style road-kill in a five-star hotel. How unfortunate that the house of Emanuel Ungaro should be the latest recipient of the dubious epithet.
Ungaro is in limbo once again, following the departure of Giles Deacon, the British designer who bowed out of the troubled French couture maison after barely a year and just four collections. To Deacon's credit, he left with a bang - quite literally. His 'Feral Lace' show for Autumn/Winter 2011 was inspired by the idea of Monsieur Ungaro dressing mistresses rather than wives. That would mean sex, then. Lots and lots of sex. Apparently, that wasn't to the house's taste, and so the revolving door that has seen designers from Peter Dundas to Lindsay Lohan Russian Roulette their way through the Ungaro atelier in less than five years spun once again.
It's a crying shame. Deacon was hired to give Ungaro edge and fashion credibility, which he undoubtedly did even during his short tenure. His absence was so sudden - and unprecedented - that many were uncertain if he had a hand in the house's Spring/Summer 2012 line at all. In fact, Jeffry Aronsson, chief executive of Ungaro, confirmed it was a thirty-five strong design team that put this collection together. Which explains a lot.
It explains the confusion, the profusion of themes and decorative motifs jostling for attention. You could almost see designers trying to leap out of the throng and make their creative voice heard, shouting with sequins and chiffon, loud colours and brash prints. It also explains the belts - lots of belts, skinny, gold, last seen ten years ago, lashed around the middle of almost every look to try and pull this rambling collection together. It doesn't explain the fact it looked as if the clothes has been sewn together by someone with no hands or right foot, or the poor fit of many of the garments (maybe those dodgy belts were actually a distraction from sagging waistbands). Ungaro wanted a collection, what it got was an embarrassment.
The problem I have with Ungaro is not the design team, who presumably are able to create perfectly fine clothing when given the right creative leadership (I doubt thirty-five new bodies were suddenly drafted in following Deacon's departure). It's with the lack of logic behind the decision-making. Aronsson confirmed that the same design team will be creating the Ungaro collections for the foreseeable future. As far as I see it, that future will be brief.