Whether it was a matter of using rich trims, such as passementerie, lace and fur or special techniques, like puckering and making indentations, it was the distinctive details designers chose that created their most memorable looks.

Emanuel Ungaro: When the designer’s erudite octogenarian uncle is left to his own devices among the fashion hordes, themselves being denied entry to a show well past the invitation hour, you know the house has a problem. But that’s what happened to Jorge Semprun, uncle to Vincent Darré, newly installed at Emanuel Ungaro.

It’s long been rumored that the Ferragamos would love to divest themselves of Ungaro. Whether that’s true or they still expect to grow the business themselves, they must come to grips with a two-part problem: One, this is a house in disarray, and two, its designer clearly lacks the power of fashion resurrection.

Is there somebody in charge, making decisions, charting a course — much less, making sure there’s someone available to help an old man to his seat? Paolo de Spirt was brought in as chief executive officer a while back, but he’s a financial and operations guy, and fashion is more than a numbers racket. Upon the exit of a longtime designer, especially the house founder, any company has to grapple with some basic questions. Does the house still reflect the founder’s philosophy and aesthetic? If so, are they still relevant? And depending upon those answers, how do we evolve or reinvent?

For some time now — well before the Ferragamos pulled the plug on the couture, thus finalizing Emanuel Ungaro’s exit — chez Ungaro has been wrought with problems, problems addressed, it seems, with mere Band-Aids. But the Band-Aid approach doesn’t work, especially when hiring a designer. Darré debuted with what can kindly be called a doozy of a collection — a big-bowed, kimonoed, geometric, green-eye shadowed, plastic-shoed marvel of confusion. But that’s almost beside the point. While his efforts gave little indication that he’s the person to jump-start a successful reinvention, the matter of designer succession is only one glaring problem for this house in apparent free-fall.

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