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PARIS — Meet the “Seam Girls.”
In an unusual move to jump-start what has been a sluggish brand rejuvenation, Emanuel Ungaro has tapped an almost unknown chief designer — Estrella Archs — and an “artistic adviser” who is arguably too well-known — Lindsay Lohan.
The Spanish designer and the actress/singer/tabloid sensation are slated to present their first collection in Paris on Oct. 4, likely coming out together at the end of the runway for a bow.
Mounir Moufarrige, Ungaro’s chief executive officer, is already relishing the prospect of that image running in newspapers and on Web sites around the world, bringing a lightning bolt of attention — good, bad or otherwise — to a French brand that has severely lacked it as it endured a revolving door of designers and lackluster collections.
“Odds are it could work,” Moufarrige said, disclosing the appointments exclusively to WWD. “Everything we’re going to get is going to be a plus. I think the noise level around Lindsay will be very, very big.”
Indeed, a Google search for the star of “Mean Girls” and “Freaky Friday” yields more than 26 million results, versus only 1.3 million for Ungaro, a couture house founded in 1965 that has been wracked by instability in the design department since its founding couturier retired in 2004.
Last July, Ungaro said it would part ways with Bogotá, Colombia-born Esteban Cortazar, whose three collections for the house failed to ignite much commercial or press interest in the brand. As reported, the designer had reached an impasse with Ungaro management over its future marketing strategy, which would involve a celebrity face.
Peter Dundas, who is now the designer at Emilio Pucci; Vincent Darré, now devoted to a signature furniture line, and Giambattista Valli, pursuing a signature label with Italy’s Mariella Burani Fashion Group, came before Cortazar as Ungaro designers.
For her part, Lohan, 23, told WWD she hopes to take Ungaro to a “younger place” with a harder fashion edge.
“When I’m involved in a project, I give my all to it,” the controversial celebrity said. “I feel like there’s a correlation between everything I do, whether it’s pop music or film. I’ve always played a big part in what I wear, the costumes. Clothing is something that’s so expressive in so many ways. It really interests me.
“To be in a position where I’m working with a fashion house in Paris sets it apart from every other celebrity brand.”
Lohan said her first fur coat was an Ungaro, which she purchased about 10 years ago. She prized its leopard spots and a pale pink lining that gave it its je ne sais quoi.
Asked to describe her role in the creative process, Lohan said she “kind of oversees everything [Archs] does, while working with her. Different generations have different ideas.”
Archs, too, was up-front about potential discord, asking: “Have you ever met two women who agree completely about fashion?”