News & Runway

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Emanuel Ungaro

image: Getty

image: Getty

With the exception of when Lindsay Lohan took the creative reins, designer Emanuel Ungaro has kept surprisingly quiet about his namesake label, which he left in 2005. Married for nearly three decades, at 82, he is now retired. Here’s a look at 10 other things you probably didn’t know about this spotlight-eschewing designer.

  1. Fashion was in Ungaro’s blood. He was born in Aix-en-Provence to an Italian tailor, who had immigrated from Brindisi. His father gave him his first sewing machine, which Ungaro took to from an early age.
  2. At the age of 25, Ungaro began working as an assistant to Cristobal Balenciaga in Paris. Just a few years later, he founded his namesake couture house with the help of four seamstresses and, in a controversial move, opted not to show eveningwear. “They are not my style. I am a man of this age and I will design for women of this age,” he explained.
  3. In 1998, Giambattista Valli left his position as creative director at Krizia to work side-by-side with Ungaro. The two worked together until 2004 when Valli left after a disagreement with Ungaro’s wife, the company’s global communications director.
  4. The designer grew up with six siblings in a happy household. He has said, “I think in French, but I laugh in Italian.”
  5. Ungaro designed while listening to classical music and has credited his love of the countryside for his liberal use of color.
  6. In 2005, Ungaro retired and sold his namesake label to Internet entrepreneur Asim Abdullah for $84 million.
  7. Ungaro was widely criticized for a 1990 ad campaign that featured images of a model being mounted by a dog.
  8. “Men loved a woman in an Ungaro dress, it was said, because the style and the vibrant colors made them imagine what she had on underneath — in a way that an Armani pantsuit did not — and, further, what they might do with this thought,” Cathy Horyn explained in a piece on Ungaro for The New York Times. 
  9. Ungaro was the first fashion designer asked to address Oxford Union, a world renowned debating society.
  10. According to the Agence France-Presse, Ungaro told an audience at the Estoril Film Festival in Lisbon, Portugal that Lindsay Lohan’s collection for Ungaro was a disaster. “I’m furious but there isn’t a thing I can do. I have absolutely no link with that house.”