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The Usual Suspects

It was destined to be a disaster from the start. It was like the Cassandra Crossing all over again. One train. One wobbly bridge. One colossal bottle of fake tan. One liberal squirt on the tracks. A no-brainer, really.

Which begs the question: who was the brains behind this? Who was the Keyser Söze  in this caper? Mounir Moufarrige, C.E.O. of Emanuel Ungaro? Are there external forces at play? Forces from beyond the boundaries of logic, taste and good old business nous? What did they expect? Duh.

To be honest I’m a little bit disappointed in the fruits of the “collaboration” between tan-aholic Lohan and Estrella Archs. I expected something so earth-shatteringly bad that when the pictures started coming through I kept hoping that it would get worse. The collection was so redundant of any sort of spark, good or bad, that I’m not even going to bother posting them. See the usual suspects – Vogue.com, Style.com, The Fashion Spot – for your fix. Cheesy love heart print. Sequins. Dubious colour combos. Ham-fisted  styling. I mean sequinned love heart pasties? Really bad tailoring. The excuse is that Archs only had about a month to damage control but if that was the case why present 45 or so looks? Why not edit and sharpen the focus? Why not just do a presentation and follow with a stronger outing the following season when you’d at least tested the water? Whole thing smacks of desperation to me. Of a quick fix.

Part of me wants to think “victimless crime”.

Li-lo wasn’t up to much anyway. At least this gave her  something to do. Apart from self-basting, i.e.

Archs. Well had you ever heard of her before?

There is a lesson in all this but the sad thing is I don’t think that it will be learnt anytime soon. There is no shortage of two-bit celebs more than willing to put their name to any piece of tat and call it “designer”. There is no shortage of big wigs to Smell The Money and milk the Cash Cow. Squirt squirt. This time it seems that the move backfired.

The house of Ungaro has had a beleagured history since the eponymous couturier let go of the reigns: Giambatista Valli, Vincent Darré, Peter Dundas, sapling Esteban Cortazar. It’s like fashion roadkill. Admittedly, some of those designers have moved on to bigger and better things. The big question here is what does Emanuel Ungaro really mean today? Where does it fit in? In the eighties Ungaro was the go-to frockmeister for the party girl set. All those intense, flouncey florals and fuchsia flashes. Are those strong enough signatures to rebuild a brand? Christophe Decarin is doing nicely catering to the party girls of today at Balmain. And for those of them who don’t quite qualify as girls, well, there’s always Lanvin.

So what to do? The Ungaro fiasco is only a symptom. The cause? Greed, perhaps. Or maybe misguided goodwill to get a return on an investment, if we’re being kind. Most likely, a warped sense of what and who is cool and relevant. Ungaro isn’t the only fashion house out there trying to crawl its way back into relevance. Pucci – incidentally, with Dundas at the helm. Vionnet. The list goes on…

The fatal error was to associate an ailing fashion brand with someone who spends so much time in the tabloids and Worst Dressed Lists that she could take up permanent residency. Buy the whole condo to be honest. And that’s just plain foolish.

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Don’t we all love a good old-fashioned comeback? Don’t we? Been listening to the new Whitney Houston album endlessly on her website not as a form of self-inflicted aural torture but as a sign of respect. Respect, you ask? What, for a crack head baby mamma? Hey, we all make mistakes AND I’M ROOTING FOR HER. Gives us all hope. Well done, Whitney! Good for you! Ok, I don’t love the album but I can sympathise with how difficult it is to pitch yourself to the right audience when you’ve blacked out for pretty much a decade. You’re older, you sound a little husky [kind of like that, actually] and you’re a bit out of touch. In all fairness it’s not too ballad-y, if you know what I mean and Million Dollar Bill is a sonic slice of happiness. It’s not bad at all. Actually, I quite like it. And she’s looking great. A bit more like her Aunty Dionne Warwick as she progresses through to her twilight years. At least she’s no longer in the Twilight Zone. And I hope she’s checked out of there permanently…

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Dionne Warwick