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Fausto Puglisi Gets Set for First Ungaro Show

While declining to reveal details about the fall collection, he conceded he has reworked iconic looks and the label’s “polka dots, trenches and knits.”

MILAN — The first Emanuel Ungaro collection designed by Italian designer Fausto Puglisi will be unveiled today with a runway show at the Chamber of Commerce venue in Paris.

This story first appeared in the March 1, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It’s a fantastic brand with an international charm, and an incredible fame — there is a strong request for the label and room for it in the market,” said Massimo Ferretti, chairman of Italian apparel manufacturer Aeffe SpA, which tapped Puglisi in September to relaunch the top line. After previous unsuccessful attempts prior to Aeffe to rejuvenate the Ungaro brand, Ferretti said the turnaround starts with a clean slate.

“There were two seasons of gap, nothing was on the market, and there is no memory of previous efforts,” contended Ferretti. “It’s an international label with Italian roots, quality and know-how, and we will keep its historical headquarters in Paris.”

Ferretti noted that the target is to reach 250 stores in the first season.

The entrepreneur turned to Puglisi believing in his talent to reinterpret Ungaro’s style and spirit while renovating it as a contemporary and international brand, positioning it in the high-end range of the market. Couture is not in the cards at the moment, he said.

“When I asked Fausto to provide ideas, he came to me with a book of sketches, already projected into the future,” said Ferretti.

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Puglisi hardly sits still at the Aeffe offices here, clearly brimming with energy. “I am super-excited; I love the Seventies and Ungaro, with [Gianni] Versace, [Thierry] Mugler and [Christian] Lacroix. It’s an aesthetic I’ve always found fascinating,” said Puglisi, who will continue to design his own namesake collection, launched in 2010.

While declining to reveal details about the fall collection, he conceded he has reworked iconic looks and Ungaro’s “polka dots, trenches and knits.” But retro is not part of his vocabulary. “The lineup is contemporary,” he said.

Asked to describe the collection, Puglisi said: “Woman, woman. Emanuel Ungaro was one of the few heterosexual designers. He loved women, and his looks were never vulgar; they were seductive while respectful of women. Sometimes today you see designs that are either for the untouchable nun or for a prostitute.”

Ferretti said he’d heard positive comments on the new course of the brand by its founder, Emanuel Ungaro. “First I have to prove my skills; I have huge respect for him,” said Puglisi of potentially communicating with the retired couturier.

While technically a license for the global production and distribution of the brand’s women’s clothing and accessories under the Emanuel Ungaro moniker, Ferretti defined the agreement as a “partnership” with Ungaro owner Asim Abdullah, a San Francisco-based high-tech entrepreneur, and his investment vehicle Aimz. Aeffe has the option to acquire a significant minority share of Ungaro’s capital stock on achieving shared goals, but not before 2020. The agreement will be active for seven years, with the option to renew for another seven.