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PARIS — Meet Giles Deacon, Mr. Avenue Montaigne.
This story first appeared in the September 30, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Emanuel Ungaro’s new creative director, who presents his debut collection on Monday, is aiming to pour the chic mystique of the legendary fashion street into the august, but lately rudderless house.
“[Ungaro] has a romance to it and that feeling of Parisian glamour that people are attracted to around the world,” enthused the bespectacled Brit designer during a preview on Wednesday. “Fresh, light, colorful and French” were some of the descriptors he threw out, hastening to add, “vivaciousness as well.”
Deacon said daywear, based on “superlight tailoring,” would be a particular emphasis, having met with store directors during couture last July and realizing that’s what they expect from the house, along with cocktail dresses and a “smattering” of eveningwear. Real women, not starlets, are the target, he stressed.
For his debut, Deacon opted to steer clear of “brash” colors, translating Ungaro’s reputation for prints in a range of sophisticated pastels, in addition to good measures of black lace.
He’ll skip the runway, too, instead presenting looks on about 30 models from various eras on a podium shaped like a daisy, a key print motif: miniaturized in silk twill; laser cut into tissue-weight leather; stylized into enamel buttons, and rendered in metallic jacquards by Swiss fabric house Solstiss.
Deacon said quality and sophistication are key watchwords of Ungaro, founded in 1965 and also known for “prints, color, a lightness and a sexiness.”
The affable designer is well aware of the huge expectations, being the sixth designer since the founder retired in 2004 to mount a rejuvenation drive. Yet, he said the turbulence did not damage the allure of the brand, and what he describes as “huge” potential.
“I feel very at home here to be honest,” he said. “There’s a really great energy here.”
Deacon’s Ungaro education stretches back to 1992 when he was still at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and ramped up recently with a trawl through the archives.
“It’s my interpretation of where I think Ungaro should be,” he said. “I think it has to have a timeless elegance as well.”
Ungaro recently signed a production agreement with Italy’s Castor Srl, maker of Deacon’s signature collection since last year, to manufacture the Emanuel Ungaro Paris label, the French fashion house’s top ready-to-wear collection. The firm is aiming for wholesale volume in excess of 10 million euros next year, or about $12.7 million at current exchange, as reported.