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Ungaro Said Seeking New Designer

Ungaro owner Asim Abdullah and his management team were spotted having lunch Friday with Giles Deacon at Le Relais Plaza, a tony spot in Paris.

PARIS — It looks like Emanuel Ungaro, which parted ways with artistic adviser Lindsay Lohan after a disastrous first collection last October, is trolling for talent again — but this time in the fashion world, WWD has learned.

Ungaro owner Asim Abdullah and his management team were spotted having lunch Friday with English designer Giles Deacon at Le Relais Plaza, a popular restaurant for the luxury crowd on the tony Avenue Montaigne.

Ungaro declined all comment. Deacon, who launched his signature label Giles in 2004 and now shows on the Paris runways, could not immediately be reached for comment.

It is understood Ungaro is eager to set its design direction on more solid footing and has been quietly conducting a talent search. According to sources, a contract with a new designer has yet to be signed.

The French house, founded in 1965, has been rocked with a revolving door since the retirement of the founder in 2004.

Abdullah, a high-tech entrepreneur, acquired Ungaro in 2005 from Salvatore Ferragamo and has already seen several designers come and go, including Bogotá, Colombia-born Esteban Cortazar and Peter Dundas, who is now the designer at Emilio Pucci. Vincent Darré, now devoted to a signature furniture line, and Giambattista Valli, who has a signature line, came before them.

According to sources, Estrella Archs, named chief designer in tandem with Lohan’s appointment last year, is expected to exit Ungaro should a new artistic director be named.

Abdullah has yet to elaborate on his plans for the company in the post-Lohan era, but has indicated his goal is to make the loss-making firm “sustainable” by 2011.