>> Cathy Horyn traces the faltering house of Ungaro and the resignation of former Ungaro CEO Mounir Moufarrige (the man responsible for hiring Lindsay Lohan), in the latest T magazine.
Three designers left under Moufarrige's reign, starting with Peter Dundas; tension reportedly built between the two when Moufarrige interfered with the creative side, Horyn reports: "The stylist George Cortina, who worked at Ungaro with Dundas, said, 'It was the worst experience I can remember,' recalling a 2 am scene when he warned Moufarrige, whom he found rearranging Dundas’s show lineup, that he would be thrown out a window if he continued meddling."
Moufarrige also said that Anna Wintour approved of appointing Lindsay Lohan »
Then there was Esteban Cortazar, who also says that Moufarrige was telling him what to design: “It was obvious that a lot of the ideas just felt dated. In general everyone in the house felt disconnected from Mounir. It was always what he wanted.”
Horyn points out of Moufarrige: "He relishes telling people that he was the one who picked Stella McCartney for Chloe, which he did, but Chloe’s real success has been due to Ralph Toledano, its CEO for the past decade."
When Cortazar left and Moufarrige wanted to hire Lindsay Lohan as an artistic advisor to the house, he told Ungaro's owner Asim Abdullah that he had visited Anna Wintour and that he had her support in the Lohan decision. However, Horyn writes, "Wintour says she never OK’d the Lohan idea, which in any case was a fait accompli when Moufarrige arrived at her office. What she told him, she said, was that she was strongly opposed to it."
Moufarrige resigned last December and Lohan followed a few months later. In May, Giles Deacon was hired as creative director (he's bringing Katie Grand to the brand, too) and Marie Fournier, a longtime operations executive at Ungaro, was put in charge of the business. Deacon, who will submit his first Ungaro collection during the upcoming Paris Fashion Week, received positive reaction to his appointment, but will his designs be enough to turn Ungaro around?
Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer of Saks, pointed out that post-economic crisis, the luxury industry became leaner and fiercely competitive, "leaving even the most seasoned professionals now find themselves in a new wilderness," Horyn writes. Frasch also questioned whether Fournier was right for the job: “I truly respect her, but she doesn’t have the background to rebuild a brand. You need a Ralph Toledano type who understands all the steps. While the brand has extraordinary heritage, I think the jury is out.”