PARIS — Fashion’s revolving door has spun once more — this time chez Emanuel Ungaro. The French fashion house has named Moschino alum Vincent Darré as its new designer.
He succeeds Giambattista Valli, who gave the brand a younger edge during his seven-year stint but was lately caught in a tug-of-war between the founding couturier and the Ferragamo family, which bought Ungaro in 1996.
Valli’s contract expired with the spring-summer 2005 collection he showed earlier this month.
Darré starts on Nov. 2, readying a pre-fall collection for January in advance of a runway debut in March during Paris Fashion Week.
“We think he’s got the right profile to take over this house, from a cultural standpoint and from a styling standpoint,” Paolo Di Spirt, Ungaro’s chief executive officer, told WWD Friday. “We are confident he has all the elements to succeed.”
Darré, 42, has been a creative consultant to Moschino since 2001, working in collaboration with the Italian firm’s creative director, Rosella Jardini, to create frothy collections that often played with icons of French style.
Based mostly in Paris, he is a popular figure on the local fashion and party circuits, with a circle of friends that includes Isabelle Adjani and Karl Lagerfeld, for whom he once worked as an assistant at both Chloé and Fendi.
After graduating from the Studio Bercot fashion school in Paris, he started his career at Yves Saint Laurent. He also has worked for Blumarine and Prada, in addition to stints as a stylist and photographer for several French fashion magazines.
At Ungaro, Darré must prove his commercial mettle for a house mired in the red and with a dwindling market presence. Wholesale volume this year, including licensed products, is expected to total 75 million euros, or $93.7 million at current exchange, but losses swelled north of 10 million euros, or $12.5 million, last year.
Di Spirt said the house is on track to reduce its operating loss by 20 percent in 2004, while sales so far are up about 8 percent. A Ferragamo veteran, Di Spirt was moved over to Ungaro last December to improve its financial health with a three-year strategic plan based on a combination of licensing, franchising and direct operations.
One possibility involves taking on a strategic partner to speed the development.
“We firmly believe in the value of the Ungaro brand, which is uniquely positioned in the luxury goods world and that is characterized by a worldwide brand awareness and has considerable potential,” said Leonardo Ferragamo. “We are encouraged by the results thus far achieved.”
Valli joined Ungaro in 1997 and was named creative director a year later. Ungaro passed the design reins for all products except couture to him in 2001. Recently, however, insiders describe their working relationship as estranged.
Valli gave the brand new currency among the celebrity and social set, but reviews have been uneven and his sexed-up styles often chafed with the house’s couture roots.
Meanwhile, Ungaro himself is working on a new high-fashion collection he could present as early as January. He bid adieu to the couture runway last July and announced plans to continue serving an upscale clientele with a new hybrid of couture and rtw.
Valli declined comment Friday.