It’s been a tough year for Emanuel Ungaro. After the departure of creative director Marco Colagrossi in April, the house parted ways in October with Roy Luwolt, who designed shoes for Ungaro via a license with Malone Souliers. Luwolt, who created controversy by overstating his role at the Italian company, has since exited Malone Souliers.

The pre-fall 2019 collection was designed by the house’s studio, a mix of longtime designers who worked alongside the founder and a couple of new recruits. (The brand isn’t planning on bringing in a new creative director for the time being.) Due to time constraints, the collection is small — 70 pieces in total — focusing on knitwear.

Fortunately, Emanuel Ungaro’s monumental archives made the task easier. “We have 2,000 couture gowns stocked in a warehouse northwest of Paris, but also photos from all the collections since 1965, from couture to ready-to-wear and even diffusion lines,” said Marie Fournier, the brand’s general manager. “We have enough inspiration for 25 collections at least.”

Archival prints — including a retro “U” mingled with roses — were splashed over a vast range of pieces, from silk separates to bomber jackets. There were polka dots, Ungaro’s signature, on knitted skirts and dresses, leopard prints on jacquard dresses, and illustrated jewels covering flowing trousers. Despite the effort, the collection felt like a lukewarm version of the brand’s glory days. It’s up to the younger additions to the studio to shake things up from the inside.

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