Emanuel Ungaro, the pioneering French fashion designer who trained with Balenciaga and founded his own eponymous fashion house in 1965, died in Paris on Saturday at age 86.
Ungaro, who retired in 2004, was born in Aix-en-Province in 1933. The son of Italian immigrants who fled to France to escape Mussolini’s fascist regime, Ungaro moved to Paris at age 22 and began designing for the house of Cristóbal Balenciaga three years later. Ungaro honored the memory of his time working as a tailor at Balenciaga even after he was no longer with the fashion house; in 1986, Ungaro dedicated his fall and winter couture collection to “Monsieur Cristóbal Balenciaga.”
In addition to Balenciaga and his own line—which he opened with the assistance of Sonja Knapp and Elena Bruna Fassio—Ungaro also designed for Courrèges and formed partnerships with Ferragamo and Bulgari. After a historic career whose highlights included dressing Jacqueline Onassis and Bianca Jagger, Ungaro retired in 2005 at the age of 72, selling the brand to Silicon Valley businessman Asim Abdullah.
Soft-spoken but never one to shy away from a bright color or bold print, Ungaro’s fashion sensibility was simple; “I hate boring clothes,” he told the Washington Post in 1977, adding, “I hate seeing women dressed in a sad way.” Ungaro received the prestigious Legion of Honor award for his contributions to the fashion industry.
Prior to his death on Saturday, Ungaro had spent the last two years in a “weakened state of health,” the Guardian reported. Ungaro is survived by his wife, Laura Bernabei, and their daughter.
Originally Appeared on Vogue