Esteban Cortazar wants to return Emanuel Ungaro to its heritage of ultrafeminine and colorful clothes.
“My designs have always been about unapologetic femininity that is pure and totally natural,” explained the 23-year-old Colombian, who was hired in December to succeed Peter Dundas.
“I had that aesthetic growing up,” he continued. “I’m Latin and very warm. I love to celebrate women who take care of themselves, are happy and look beautiful. It’s the kind of woman who smells delicious.”
Cortazar, who will show his freshman effort for the house Feb. 27, said he felt an instant connection with Ungaro’s legacy for color, prints and fluid dresses.
“I want to bring lightness back to the brand,” he said, explaining that his fall collection was inspired by “natural elements, fluidity and movement.”
“The prints are directed to nature and growth,” he said. “There is soft color, but also vibrant color. There are a lot of dresses. The main idea was movement, always movement. Ungaro should always be about unapologetic femininity.”
Cortazar’s arrival chez Ungaro is part of an effort to bring stability to the house, which was purchased by Asim Abdullah, a high-tech entrepreneur, in 2005. The last few seasons have seen a revolving door of designers, including Vincent Darre and Dundas.
In fact, the house has been groping for an identity since the departure of Giambattista Valli, who took over after the retirement of Ungaro in 2004.
“We’re not on the radar of young chicks,” said Ungaro chief executive Mounir Moufarrige. “We need to have a strong identity and be younger. Esteban is very aware of color and prints.
He’s perfect for Ungaro. He understands what women want.”
Cortazar first gained attention when he launched a signature line in New York at the age of 18 after being taken under the wing of the late Kalman Ruttenstein of Bloomingdale’s.
“Kal took me to my first fashion shows when I was 14,” said Cortazar, who stopped his own collection to concentrate on Ungaro.
Now, the youthful designer said he’s ready to turn up the energy.
This story first appeared in the February 21, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Paris feels really creative,” he said, adding that he’s still living out of a hotel room, having yet to find the time to move into an apartment. “It makes you feel like you can go the extra mile.”
— Robert Murphy
Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto want to sharpen Cacharel’s fashion edge while building on the contemporary brand’s heritage for accessible clothes, youthful prints and color.
The London-based designer couple, who do the Eley Kishimoto line, were hired last October to replace Suzanne Clements and Inancio Ribeiro, who left Cacharel after a seven-year collaboration.
Eley said he and Kishimoto wanted to identify the brand closer with spirited sportswear at good prices. “Cacharel is a diffusion label,” said Eley. “But I would like it to have some range. It’s meant to entice the young and old.”
Eley said he and his wife divided the fall collection into three parts under the title “Good Girl, Rain or Shine.”
The first part, “School Day Nostalgia,” plays with uniform styles and vintage coats. The second, “Weekend,” is devoted to relaxed silhouettes for chilling out. “Going Out,” the third part, is “for a girl who wants to make a bit more effort,” said Eley.
Prints — one of Eley Kishimoto’s hallmarks — play an important role in their first effort for Cacharel. They include a graphic “paisley rain” print and another with a cheerful Eiffel Tower arrangement.
Eley said he and Kishimoto planned to keep Cacharel “more approachable” than their own label while also contributing a lot of “subtly and cut” to the clothes.
“We really feel linked to the brand,” said Eley. “For us to do it seemed like a perfect match.”
The designers’ collection will be presented in Cacharel’s store on the Left Bank starting Sunday and running through the entirety of Paris Fashion Week.
Next season they plan to bring a more advanced collection to the runway to coincide with the brand’s 50th anniversary.
While she’s been working with Sonia Rykiel in the studio for the last two years, designer Gabrielle Greiss is preparing to show a bit more of her own colors after being promoted to creative director of the house’s top line in December. For Rykiel’s fall collection, Greiss, a former Martine Sitbon and Lanvin hand, is taking the house’s iconic prints and striped knits into new territory.
“I wanted to reinterpret the [house’s] codes and to make them look younger,” said Greiss, adding that she played with the idea of a fairy tale for fall.
To wit: swans and rabbits are worked into abstract prints in cute dresses and sweaters. Rhinestones, one of Rykiel’s favorite decorative flourishes, are applied sparingly on flirty dresses and pantsuits.
“It’s meant to be fun,” said Greiss, who will take a bow alongside Rykiel and her daughter Nathalie Rykiel at the house’s show on Feb. 29.
Peachoo & Krejberg
India’s Peachoo Datwani and Danish designer Roy Krejberg, of Peachoo & Krejberg, will be making their catwalk debut this season. The event will be staged at the Hôtel de Brossier, a dilapidated mansion in Paris’ third arrondissement.
Since it was founded in 2004, the label has become known for its architectural construction and play on volume. Datwani’s Indian roots are evident in the brand’s semiprecious jewelry line as well as touches of hand-embroidery on the clothes.
“Coats will form a strong element of our fall line,” said Krejberg, adding that constructed jackets come in “collapsed” washed fabrics such as linen and wool.
A capsule shoe line will also be unveiled. The footwear feature heeled versions of a classic men’s shoe.
No stranger among the fashion cognoscenti (Rei Kawakubo stocks the brand in London’s Dover Street Market and Tokyo’s 10 Corso Como Comme des Garçons), the label is sold in around 70 niche stores internationally. “Next up, we hope to develop distribution within department stores,” said Krejberg.
— Katya Foreman
“I’ve kept up by bad habit of coming in at the last minute,” joked Peter Dundas, the former Emanuel Ungaro designer who was appointed creative director of Revillon in January. The French furrier was acquired by Yves Salomon just over a year ago. Dundas will unveil his first capsule collection for the firm here on Monday at l’Espace Daniel Casanova in the first arrondissement. The strapping Norwegian designer summoned his Nordic roots for the line, opting for “savage” furs, such as white fox, badger, raccoon and lynx. “In Norway, animals turn white in winter so I’ve stuck to a palette of noncolors such as whites and grays,” said the designer, adding that he has also worked traditional Scandinavian embellishments into the coats, lining them with twisted silk ribbon embroidery or forming patchworks of furs.
Focusing on easy, “slouchy” silhouettes that mainly stop mid-thigh, the overall effect is urbane and chic. “I wanted to bring a cooler aesthetic [to the category],” he said, adding that he’s been talking to a lot of women about what they want from a fur. “They all agree that they love glamour and sensuality but they don’t want to look like their grandmas,” said Dundas.
One of the freshest emerging young designer brands here is Ikou-Tschüss, a handmade clothing line that is a collaboration between fashion stylist Guya Marini and Carmen d’Apolliono, an assistant to the New York-based Swiss artist Urs Fischer. Both second-generation Italians, the 34-year-old globe-trotters grew up together in Zurich. “Our philosophy is to start knitting and see where it takes us; it’s a kind of permanent work-in-progress,” said Marini.
Silk, wool and cashmere are some of the fabrics that the duo use to fashion their signature scarves, sweaters and knitted hats. It’s a labor of love, since Italian and Swiss grandmothers knit the collection, which is sold in Colette in Paris and Plum in Beirut, Lebanon.
“We want to keep to small production lines and maintain a handmade aesthete,” said Marini, adding that a children’s line will be added next season.
— Katya Foreman
After her couture debut in July, Finnish designer Jasmin Santanen will present her first ready-to-wear runway show March 2 at her Rue Saint Antoine showroom. Santanen, who studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York and Paris before gaining expertise at design houses Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès and Josephus Thimister, launched her eponymous label in 2004. For fall, Santanen channeled Dalida, Maria Callas and Elvis through body-conscious silhouettes embellished with sequins and reptile-look prints. “They were all amazing artists,” said Santanen. “But they were all overwhelmed by their personalities.”
— Emilie Marsh