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Ungaro, Emanuel

men’s lines women’s l’homme

B. February 13, 1933

Birthplace: Aix-en-Provence, France

Awards: Neiman Marcus Award, 1969
         Dallas Fashion Award, Designer Women’s Wear, 1996

Emanuel Ungaro was born in France to a family of Italian immigrants. Ungaro’s love of fashion was instilled in him at an early age by working for his father’s tailoring business. Without any formal training, Ungaro moved to Paris in 1955, and three years later he landed a coveted apprenticeship with Cristóbal Balenciaga. From Balenciaga he learned how to manipulate color and line and to create classic fashions. Ungaro left Balenciaga in 1964 to work for André Courrèges for two seasons, where he was influenced by Courrèges’s youthful, modern fashions.

In 1965, with $5,000, Ungaro and textile artist Sonja Knapp founded the House of Ungaro in a small Paris studio, and he launched his first collection of only twenty pieces. His first collections reflected a direct influence from his work with Courrèges. The designs were edgy, space-aged, and futuristic with hard geometric lines. His early work was similar to that of many young designers of this era who were designing to appeal to the new youth market. For several years, Ungaro experimented with different looks, and in the late 1970s he developed what was to become his signature style: ultrafeminine silhouettes in fabrics which broke the golden rule: Never mix your patterns. Ungaro combined florals, plaids, and stripes in the same garment, creating chaos and elegance with vibrant color combinations inspired by the lush countryside of Provence. The strategically draped and shirred body-conscious designs were sensuous and rich, seductive without being vulgar. The bold patterns combined with soft feminine silhouettes became the epitome of 1980s women’s fashions, representing the duality of women’s roles.

The majority interest in Ungaro was bought by Salvatore Ferragamo in 1996, although Ungaro retains creative control. Over the course of his career, Ungaro has launched several lines of men’s and women’s apparel and has licensed other product lines. Ungaro’s European lines include Parallele, a boutique collection, was introduced in 1971; Ungaro Ter, a women’s knitwear line, produced from 1988 to 1991; and Solo Donna, a women’s ready-to-wear line. Ungaro produces two menswear lines: Ungaro pour l’Homme Paris and Classics by Ungaro. Three additional lines are designed by a New York team under the direction of Ungaro for exclusive distribution in the United States: Emanuel by Emanuel Ungaro, introduced in 1991 as a women’s bridge collection of sportswear; Emanuel Petite, introduced in 1994; and Ungaro Woman, a plus-size collection introduced in 1996. GFT USA Corp (a subsidiary of Gruppo GFT) holds the exclusive licensing agreement for the production and distribution of these Ungaro lines worldwide, excluding Japan and South Korea. Other product lines licensed by Ungaro include intimate apparel by Warnaco, bedding by Crown Crafts, men’s knitwear by Franco Ziche, men’s neckwear by Mantero, men’s shirts by Biemme, men’s sportswear and outerwear by Belfe, men’s leather goods and shoes by Ferragamo, and a bridge line of men’s suits and sportswear by Ermenegildo Zegna.

Parfums Ungaro, owned by the Bulgari Group and Ferragamo, has launched several fragrances. Ungaro, his first scent, was launched in 1977, followed by Diva in 1982, Senso in 1987, and Fleur de Diva in 1997. Three men’s fragrances have been introduced: Pour l’Homme I, Pour l’Homme II, and Pour l’Homme III. In 1993 Ungaro released a limited edition of Ombre de la Nuit, his personal scent, to commemorate his tenth year in business. Ungaro, Senso, Pour l’Homme I, and Pour l’Homme II were all phased out in 1997.

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