Nov 30, 2007
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23-year-old Briton to 'make chicks tick' for Ungaro

Nov 30, 2007

PARIS, Nov 30, 2007 (AFP) - France's prestigious luxury fashion house Emanuel Ungaro is bringing in a 23-year-old Colombian-born Briton who works in the US to freshen up its women's collections, the company's chief executive said Friday, November 30th.

Esteban Cortazar

Esteban Cortazar "knows what makes a chick tick and that's important in our business," the head of the Paris house, Mounir Moufarrige, told AFP.

The new designer is a Bogota-born British national who moved to the US at the age of 11 and trotted out his first collection under his name in New York in 2003.

Since founder-couturier Ungaro departed in 2005, the company has seen three successive designers, the last being Norwegian Peter Dundas, who was waved off last July with Moufarrige saying at the time the venerable house "needs shock therapy."

Asked whether Cortazar had the age and experience needed to give the venerable 40-year label a shot in the arm, Moufarrige cited Facebook founder Mark Zucherberg's 22 years and billion-dollar success story.

And it was Moufarrige who picked Stella McCartney for Chloe when she was only 24.

"It's not his age that counts," he said. Cortazar's use of colour, his Latin roots and "great feel for a woman's body" made him the ideal candidate to "translate Ungaro DNA into something modern."

"Ungaro is a seduction brand," said Moufarrige. "Doing beautiful pieces isn't enough. Everyone does beautiful pieces, unless it's different no-one will notice."

The high-fashion manager has a proven track record in luxury goods, raising the Montblanc pen franchise to international icon status as well as developing the Dunhill and Chloe marks.

He took over as chief executive in March last year and is a shareholder in the US investment fund AIMZ -- owned by Pakistan-born Asim Abdullah, a US-based high-tech entrepreneur -- which has owned Ungaro since the end of 2005.

Founded in 1965 by Emanuel Ungaro, the brand is famed for brightly-coloured floral prints includes women's and men's wear, accessories and perfumes.

Revenues have been estimated at 250 million dollars (170 million euros) yearly including licensing, but Moufarrige declined comment on the figure.

by Claire Rosemberg

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