Emanuel Ungaro

Born: Aix-en-Provence, France, 1933
Died: Paris, France, 2019

Designer Biography Emanuel Ungaro

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Emanuel Ungaro originally trained at his father’s tailoring business in Aix-en-Provence. Moving to Paris in 1955, Ungaro was hired by a well-known men’s tailor, Christiani. Three years later Balenciaga hired Ungaro as an assistant designer.  Following this, Ungaro was hired by a Spanish fashion house as head designer. Ungaro then left the company and went to work for Andrè Courrèges.

After gaining experience and developing a strict discipline and technique, Emanuel Ungaro decided to open his own fashion house in 1965. Located in Avenue Montaigne since 1967, here he applied his technical skills to geometric formed garments. Ungaro also worked with Sonia Knapp, a textile designer, to expand and create new colours for his designs.

In 1973, Ungaro launched his first menswear collection, Ungaro Uomo. Ten years later the first fragrance was released, named Diva. Three more perfumes followed until 1996, when a partnership formed with Salvatore Ferragamo. The new company, Emanuel Ungaro Parfums, released three more perfumes in the following years.

In 2005, Emanuel Ungaro retired, selling his label to entrepreneur Asim Absullah. Following his retirement a number of designers have unsuccessfully worked for the label. However, in 2010 Giles Deacon was appointed as Creative Director of the brand aiming to return and re-interpret the rich heritage of Ungaro.

The house now has an international presence across Europe, the United States, the Far East and Middle East, as well as diffusion collections. Known for his unquestionable sophistication, Emanuel Ungaro’s designs reflect his sartorial skills.  Details combining colour, layering and different fabrics all combine to set off a harmonious style.

Following its sale, the label Ungaro experienced a period of decline with a series of designers coming and going. Esteban Cortazar was appointed in 2007 but was fired two years later after refusing to work with actress Lindsay Lohan. Subsequently, Lohan herself was appointed as Artistic Director, alongside new head designer Estrella Archs, hastily hired to replace Cortazar. However, the introduction of Lohan received a negative reception at Paris Fashion Week in 2009, causing shock and dismay. Lohan’s tenure was short-lived, and in 2010 she announced her departure from Ungaro during Paris Fashion Week, citing legal issues as the reason. Her work was heavily criticised, and shortly after, the fashion house began searching for a buyer.

In 2009, the label reported sales of approximately $200 million from fragrance and less-expensive lines sold in Asia, but its runway collection had been losing money for years. In April 2010, it was announced that Estrella Archs had been dismissed and British designer Giles Deacon would take over as creative director.

In 2012, the Italian company Aeffe assumed responsibility for the production and distribution of Ungaro products. The brand made a comeback to Paris Fashion Week in September 2012, with Fausto Puglisi appointed as the new creative director. In 2015, Ungaro introduced a smart ring that lights up when selected contacts call, connecting to a phone. In March 2017, Marco Colagrossi, formerly from Giorgio Armani’s women’s wear, replaced Fausto Puglisi as the creative director of Ungaro.

Regarding fragrances, in 2008, Avon collaborated with Emanuel Ungaro to launch a new duo of fragrances: U by Ungaro for Her and U by Ungaro for Him. Actress Reese Witherspoon served as the spokesperson for the scents. The fragrance for women features notes of bergamot blossom, freesia, pepper blossom, acacia aura, lotus flower, osmanthus, iris, sandalwood, and musk. The men’s fragrance includes green mandarin leaf, ruby red grapefruit, pomegranate, immortelle, cardamom, cedar leaf, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, tonka bean, and Balsam of Peru.

Emanuel Ungaro Biographpy

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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