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A different kind of rose blooms at Valli and Ungaro

Sexual stereotypes take on new meaning in Paris

04 March, 16:37
A different kind of rose blooms at Valli and Ungaro

(By Elisa Cecchi) (ANSA) - Rome, March 4 - A number of leading designers have been toying with men's clothes on women in runway shows seen in New York, London, Milan and Paris over the past month - but Giambattista Valli has not been among them.

The Rome-born designer, who made a breakthrough with his own line in Paris in 2005 with unapologetically feminine dresses, vied for a woman-as-rose look for the fall 2014 collection which debuted in the French capital on Tuesday.

So did another top Italian designer, Emanuel Ungaro's Fausto Puglisi, yet it was a very different kind of rose.

Nothing was more true on Tuesday than Gertrude Stein's "rose is a rose is a rose is a rose", a quote from her 1913 poem Sacred Emily on the effort of trying to retrieve the lost identity of something.

Valli's pink, red and burgundy-shaded roses were designed for women who are very comfortable flaunting their femininity.

Puglisi's black and white roses crafted a sporty collection flirting with androgyny.

After insisting for a number of seasons on boxy shapes, Valli designed a new butterfly silhouette for skirts opening at the sides like "wings".

His collection was indeed as light as a butterfly with a number of black-and-white coats and dresses featuring subtle motifs evoking ethnic patterns or animal prints.

Fur had a part in the collection, though in a supporting role to enhance for instance the feminine quality of a pink coat with lace details. Roses played the lead role in bold prints on dresses and coats crafted in uncompromisingly womanly silhouettes with fitted tops, small waists and flaring, short skirts worn over bare legs.

Yet even though this collection stood out as an antidote to mixing sexual stereotypes, Valli still crafted his own brand of duality by playing with textures.

Wool and lace were mixed with fur, flat fabrics with fluffy textures in an ode to the complexity of womanliness.

At Ungaro, Puglisi vied to shape his own take in defining women - mixing feminine and masculine in each outfit.

He sent down the catwalk bold roses while brushing up masculine materials in a show that was strong on pants.

"It is often easy to forget, when you think about Ungaro, that he was a master in designing very beautiful trousers", said Puglisi on the sidelines of the show on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old designer combed the archives to devise his own interpretation of the fashion house's allure custom-made for "women who are liberated also in their choice of clothing".

There was no jewelry and no embroidery in clothes that featured a modern, devil-may-care take on elegance with oversized sweaters for eveningwear and an explosion of black and white rose prints on masculine ensembles. A splendid herringbone suit featured a jacket with 1980s powerful shoulders worn over a sheer, sexy top.

Yet there were also frilly A-line skirts and rose-printed dresses.

Overall, casual looks playing with androgyny were counterbalanced by deliciously feminine touches - like lace-up booties - to give a new sense of identity to an historic French maison founded on couture.

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