PARIS — Emanuel Ungaro SAS is officially parting ways with designer Esteban Cortazar and plans to name a successor in due course, WWD has learned.
The French fashion house, owned since 2005 by high-tech entrepreneur Asim Abdullah, is expected to announce as early as today a separation by mutual agreement.
WWD first reported that Ungaro would end its relationship with Cortazar on June 5. The designer, who received mixed reviews for the three collections he showed on the runway, had recently reached an impasse with management over its marketing and advertising strategy, as reported.
The identity of potential successors could not be learned.
However, Mounir Moufarrige, Ungaro’s chief executive officer, is known for making unexpected choices, most famously replacing Karl Lagerfeld with Stella McCartney, then age 25, as head designer at Chloé in 1997.
Mouffarige is also said to be angling for a celebrity face for future marketing to help wake up Ungaro, and has been in talks with about half a dozen potential candidates, including Lindsay Lohan.
Bogotá, Colombia-born Cortazar presented his first signature collection in New York at the age of 18 and was embraced by retailers such as the late Kal Ruttenstein at Bloomingdale’s. He arrived at Ungaro at 23, succeeding Peter Dundas, who is now the designer at Emilio Pucci.
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“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia