Emanuel Ungaro Taps Jeffry Aronsson as CEO

The struggling French fashion house has named a new chief executive as part of a plan to turn itself around.

PARIS — Emanuel Ungaro SAS has lured American turnaround expert Jeffry Aronsson as its new chief executive officer, WWD has learned.

This story first appeared in the June 9, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Aronsson, who has been chief executive at Donna Karan International, Marc Jacobs International and Oscar de la Renta, also heads a New York-based investment and advisory firm. Founded in New York in 2006, Aronsson Group offers strategic consulting in the fashion and retail sectors, and holds a minority stake in English designer company Matthew Williamson. Sources said it’s conceivable the group could make an equity investment in Ungaro in the future.

On Wednesday, Ungaro said Aronsson’s appointment came on the recommendation of Marvin Traub Associates and its senior adviser, Burt Tansky, the former chairman and ceo of the Neiman Marcus Group, following a review of the company. In addition, Traub, Tansky and MTA president Mortimer Singer are to join Ungaro’s advisory committee.

The committee will be charged with improving the fortunes of a company that has weathered a revolving door of designers since the retirement of its founder in 2004, and struggled to heat up the august name, synonymous with the color fuchsia, feminine frills and prints.

“We have an authentic, world renowned haute couture designer brand with a great heritage. Yes, it has been bruised, but with the right care and attention, the bruises will heal and it will look as great as it ever did,” Aronsson said in an interview.

He said his first order of business would be “getting the product right while communicating a clear brand message.”

The company, founded in 1965, has been without a ceo since December 2009, when Mounir Moufarrige exited following a disastrous, short-lived attempt to jump-start the brand by installing tabloid sensation Lindsay Lohan as artistic adviser.

Entrepreneur Asim Abdullah has controlled the Ungaro brand since 2005, when he bought it from Salvatore Ferragamo. Since that time, it has chewed through designers Vincent Darre, Peter Dundas, Esteban Cortazar and Estrella Archs, who had been hired to work beside Lohan.

The current incumbent, Giles Deacon, has shown two collections for Ungaro, recently steering the brand in a more sexed-up direction, while continuing to show his namesake label Giles during London Fashion Week.