Ungaro to Split With Esteban Cortazar

The French house Ungaro is expected to announce the split with fashion designer Esteban Cortazar today and name a successor soon.

PARIS — Emanuel Ungaro SAS is officially parting ways with designer Esteban Cortazar and plans to name a successor in due course, WWD has learned.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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.