Kobi Halperin has stepped into the world of Ungaro.
Starting with resort 2021, Halperin has designed an Ungaro collection exclusively for Saks Fifth Avenue that will be available in stores in November. He will continue to design the Kobi Halperin collection.
Komark LLC, a subsidiary of S. Rothschild + Co., Halperin’s business partner, signed a licensing agreement with Emanuel Ungaro SAS, becoming the design, manufacturing and distribution licensee of the Ungaro women’s apparel collection.
Emanuel Ungaro, who started his own Paris-based house in 1965, was known for his feminine designs, bold colors, and prints. He exited the House of Ungaro in 2004 and died in 2019 at the age of 86.
“As a young student, I loved strolling along Avenue Montaigne. To me, it was always the most inspiring and exciting moment to stop and gaze at the Emanuel Ungaro shop at the end of the avenue. Paris has always been my primary source of inspiration because of its sophistication and style and the representation of the Parisian woman,” said Halperin.
He said that undertaking this role, he was determined to embrace “the brand’s history, legacy and cachet — its very DNA — to create something that is relevant for today.”
The Israeli-born Halperin previously worked for Elie Tahari and Kenneth Cole Productions before starting his namesake collection in fall 2015.
“I love the idea of embracing the Ungaro ideal and to once again harness that flair for feminine, sexy, effortless Parisian elegance in service to the modern woman,” he said.
Halperin, who was reached in Israel Monday where he is spending a week and a half visiting his alma mater, Shenkar College, and working with students, said his relationship with Ungaro’s team started about 10 years ago when he was looking for his new chapter.
“I have a very strong point of view of what I think is right for Ungaro and what I think would be an opportunity for the brand and for the business.” While they didn’t get together back then, Halperin began working for other brands and then focused on creating his own brand.
“COVID-19 made us all stop and think about opportunities. As a designer and business person, I always think of opportunities and try to be creative and come up with new ideas.
The Ungaro concept, which was so close to my heart, came back to me as an opportunity,” he said. He explained that while the Kobi Halperin customer is very clear to him, he has always been intrigued with the Parisian woman and the sophistication.
The new Ungaro collection is priced between the designer and contemporary price point, with an average price point of $400 to $450.
Blouses will retail from $400 to $550, dresses are $450 to $700, jackets are $500 to $600 and sweaters go from $400 to $550. He is planning four drops a year, with 40 different styles in the first drop. They created an ivory logo on a black label “which is very clean and very modern,” said Halperin.
Sizes range from XXS to XXL and tailored pieces are sizes 0 to 16.
For the first collection, Halperin said he took a very “humble approach to the brand, and went with my instincts from what I remember about Ungaro and making it Parisian chic.”
He said he looked to the DNA of the brand, which was focused on polka dots, florals and animal prints. “I really felt that after COVID-19, there’s almost a moment in history that’s very similar to what happened after the war,” he said nodding to the idea that after women have spent so much time in sweatpants, they’ll want to dress up again in more tailored looks.
“The woman wants to be comfortable, and the only way for her to look chic is if she’s at ease. I think that element is going to stay,” he said. He said when he creates looks for Ungaro, he’s using knit fabrics to create comfort, but they still have that polished tailored look.
“It’s really about bringing sexiness and femininity back. For me, it’s always about always looking effortless. I love the idea of tailoring and the soft part mixed together,” he said. Among the special details are ruffles, three-dimensional florals, ruching and printed details. Fabrics are silks and viscose.
The collection will start with Saks for the American market and will eventually be sold all over the world. They plan to go to Paris in September to show the collection for the next market.
He said he signed a long-term licensing arrangement with Emanuel Ungaro SAS and that this is the only Ungaro women’s fashion line available in the market right now. (Emanuel Ungaro’s design studio showed a spring 2021 women’s collection but never produced it due to the pandemic.)
Saks confirmed Monday that it has the exclusive for the Ungaro line and will carry it in stores, as well as saks.com, beginning in November.
While the resort collection is focused on the daytime, the looks can be worn in the evening. He said he loves the concept of taking evening wear details into every day, so she can wear it with her jeans or with evening accessories at night. For summer delivery, he hopes to create more evening wear.
Halperin spoke about his admiration for Ungaro: “It’s a period of time in a fashion that I always admired. The idea is taking all the elements I miss and re-creating them in a contemporary way that are relevant for the woman today.”
Since traveling to Europe was difficult during COVID-19 he couldn’t go to the archives, but viewed all the old fashion shows, looked at all the elements, and talked to customers who admired Ungaro. “I tried to understand what they liked so much and how can I bring it back,” he said.
Describing who he envisions as the Ungaro customer today, he said, “She’s a smart woman. She feels confident about who she is. She is dressing to impress herself and no one else. This is not about the woman who is looking to impress a man. It’s using clothes to feel confident and look beautiful.”