Emanuel Ungaro

Katy Conover

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA078

Emanuel Ungaro was born on 13 February 1933 in Aix-en-Provence, France, to Italian émigré parents. He was first apprenticed with a tailor, and then worked in his father’s workshop. In 1956, he moved to Paris, began working at Camps, then joined Balenciaga’s shop as an apprentice cutter in 1958. In 1960 he was promoted to cutter after André Courrèges left. He became director of Balenciaga Madrid in 1960. In 1964 Ungaro left Balenciaga to work for André Courrèges and the following year Ungaro opened his own shop, launching his first collection. In 1968 Ungaro began his ready-to-wear line, Ungaro Parallèle, and in 1969 he won the Neiman Marcus Oscar for Fashion. By 1971 he had signed a contract with GFT out of Turin (renewed until 1998). In 1975, he designed the first of several films by dressing Catherine Deneuve in Le Sauvage.

Extremely successful in the 1980s, the 1990s, however, with its focus on minimalism of color and prints, saw a decline in Ungaro’s popularity until the shift back to bright colors and bold patterns in the early 2000s. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac became the lead designer in 1993. In 1996, Ferragamo took over Emanuel Ungaro, but Ungaro remained on as artistic director. The next year, Robert Forrest joined as head designer and Giambattista Valli became artistic director. Then, in 2002, Ungaro followed the Asian trend, opening showrooms in Russia, China, and Singapore.

The brand started to decline when Ungaro retired and Giambattista Valli left in 2004 to focus on his own range. Vincent Darré, from Moschino, was named creative director, with Ungaro (despite having retired in 2004) supervising Darré to launch a new haute couture collection. In 2005, Emanuel Ungaro was sold to Asim Abdullah. In 2006, Peter Dundas (previously of Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix) became creative director, and Frank Boclet became menswear designer in 2007. Dundas left shortly after and Esteban Cortezar took over until 2009. Then CEO Mounir Moufarrige appointed Estrella Archs (formerly of Nina Ricci, Emilio Pucci, Christian Lacroix, and Miuccia Prada at Prada) as chief designer and, controversially, Lindsay Lohan (American actress) as artistic advisor, which ended in 2010 when Giles Deacon (formerly of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Ralph Lauren) became creative director after the departure of Moufarrige, Archs, and Lohan.

Emanuel Ungaro spin-off labels include Emanuel Ungaro Paris, Emanuel Ungaro Homme, Ungaro Fuchsia, Fever, Ungaro Moon, Solo Donna, Ungaro Ter, Emanuel/Emanuel Ungaro and Emanuel/Emanuel Ungaro Liberté, Emanuel Ungaro U Collection, Emanuel Ungaro Knitwear, Week-End, Chaussures et Sacs Emanuel Ungaro, Lunettes Homme et Femme, and Ungaro Feve, Ungaro Sun, I love Ungaro.

Emanuel Ungaro, Fall/Winter 2000 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Asnaghi Laura, Maria Vittoria Alfonsi, and Guido Vergnai , eds. Fashion Dictionary . New York : Baldini Castoldi Dalai editore, 2006.

Barchfield Jenny. “Ungaro Hires Giles Deacon as Creative Dir.” AP Worldstream, 25 May 2010. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1A1-D9FTUS800.html (accessed 23 August 2013).

Find in Library Christian Nigel. ““The Sorcerer and his Apprentice”.” The Guardian Weekend ( London ), 7 April 2001 .

Find in Library Fellini Federico, Katia D. Kaupp, Yves Navarre, Hélène de Turckheim, and Alain Weill. Emanuel Ungaro . Milan : Electa, 1992.

Find in Library Frankel Susannah. ““Ungaro Breezes Back After Years in ‘Fashion Siberia”.’” The Independent ( London ), 9 March 2002. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1668131.html (accessed 1 September 2013).

Find in Library Lowthorpe Rebecca. ““With a Burst of Colour Ungaro Leads the Way into a Bold New Millennium”.” The Independent ( London ), 20 July 1999. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-5001358.html (accessed 20 August 2013).

Find in Library Orban Christine. Emanuel Ungaro . London : Thames & Hudson, 1999.