Emanuel Ungaro was a child of Italian political refugees, who settled in Provence. Ungaro’s first toy was a Siemens sewing machine. His tailor father, Cosimo, encouraged and taught him to sew at a very young age, and when he was a teenager, Emanuel Ungaro started working alongside his father at the family workshop. He moved to Paris at the age of 23, and after working with several tailors, he became an intern to Cristobal Balenciaga.
He learned the craft of tailoring at a very young age, but it was when interning with Balenciaga, that he learned couture skills from the master that was Cristobal Balenciaga. He spent six years perfecting his craft, and after a brief stint at Andre Couregges, he opened his own house in 1965, with the financial backing of Swiss artist Sonja Knapp and Elena Bruna Fassio. His first collection and even subsequent collections that followed received mixed reviews from the press, but despite that he persevered presenting romantic, frilly dresses that garnered the praise of a celebrity clientele, such as Jean Seberg and Catherine Deneuve. He, later on, introduced menswear with impeccably cut suits, as well as women’s perfumes.
Fashion designer Emanuel Ungaro spring/summer collection 1989. Photo source: Victor Virgile
Key Success Factors:
He was a master tailor and a technician, who was known for his polka-dots, ruffles, floral patterns, and was regarded as a romantic designer who infused his design with sensuality. Despite receiving initial rejection and criticism from the key fashion insiders, he stood behind his vision, and within a few seasons, he will garner a loyal clientele who appreciated his romantic and feminine dream-like silhouette.
Emanuel Ungaro Women ready to wear 1985 summer. Photo Source: Guy Marineau