The ghost of James Dean haunts Emanual Ungaro
Sat Jan 24, 6:00 PM EST

PARIS – The rebellious spirit of James Dean haunted the house of Ungaro on Saturday.

While the financial crisis has pushed other designers to seek refuge in the safety of the sober suit, Emanuel Ungaro menswear designer Franck Boclet put his money on a 1950's "Rebel Without a Cause" drag racer look. Indigo denim and tartan supplanted charcoal pinstripes as Boclet's fabric of choice for the winter 2009-2010 season.

"Who wants to be dressed for a cemetery?" Ungaro CEO Mounir Moufarrige asked The Associated Press from his front row perch. "You have to give (people) optimism and hope and light up their day — particularly in hard times like these."

The Lebanese-born businessman, who has made a specialty out of reviving semi-dormant brands, said the label would continue its strategy of banking on standout pieces.

Unfortunately, there were few such standouts at Saturday's show. The pairing of matchstick trousers with bulky, square-cut coats created top-heavy silhouette that was less appealing than some of the leaner, layered looks other Paris labels have shown this week.

Astrakhan rock star coats provided a touch of glamor, but a pared-down tuxedo jacket was the strongest piece in the show. In sumptuous black, with a single button, the collar-less jacket had strong, razor-cut lines that showcased Boclet's skills as a tailor.

The French designer made his name at Francesco Smalto, cutting suits with a defiant swagger.

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