Ever since the announcement that 23 year-old Esteban Cortazar had been selected as the new designer for Ungaro, fashion people have been scratching their heads.
Over at Cathy Horyn’s blog, many of the regulars have been noting Cortazar’s lack of experience (in design, but also in life and in business), lack of sophistication and lack of a unique vision. While everyone seems to be rooting for the young and talented designer, the path ahead for Ungaro is full of question marks. Cathy Horyn herself says:
Esteban Cortazar is a nice kid; he’s outgoing and he’s got some talent. But a number of the fashion-house appointments don’t seem all that well considered, and at some point the mistakes become irritating. I certainly wish Cortazar well. Working in Paris can be a great experience for a designer, but as Fashion Turtle notes… does he have the craft?
So why would Ungaro’s management choose such a young, inexperienced designer for such an august label? Not by choice, it turns out.
Designer after designer was offered the role, but no one took the bait. According to WWD, Hedi Slimane, Sophia Kokosalaki, Christopher Kane and Marios Schwab were all approached. Sources close to the discussions say that the list was even longer than that. Designers, it is said, were suspicious of the what the revolving door of Ungaro designers (Giambattista Valli, Peter Dundas and Vincent Darré) said about the Ungaro CEO, Mounir Moufarrige and his management style.
As for Cortazar, who agreed to give up his own label to take on the role, he is understandably overwhelmed. He gushed to the Miami Herald last week:
I’m at the Ungaro atelier on Avenue Montaigne. I’m living a dream right now. I’m 23 and I have so much to do and this is such a great vehicle.
This kid doesn’t seem to know what he is in for. Like a lot of people, we are hoping for the best, but given the questionable match between the inexperienced Cortazar, the confused Ungaro brand, and the CEO with a patchy track record of managing creative talent, this may just be hope over experience.