Vintage Designer Bio: Emanuel Ungaro February 08 2020, 0 Comments

Vintage designer bio: Emanuel Ungaro 


After hearing of the sad passing of one of fashions most singular designers last month we decided to focus our latest designer bio on Emanuel Ungaro. A master of bold colour, outlandish floral prints and incredible draping, along with designers like Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana, Ungaro ruled the 1980s fashion scene. However, his career was more diverse and interesting than the excess he was known for in his 80s heyday. 




Signature details of vintage Ungaro clothing:

- Large striking floral prints.
- Draped, ruffled and pleated details. 
- Shoulder pads to create a dramatic silhouette.
- Favourite fabrics include silk, velvet and wool. 
- The haute couture is obviously made in France and the ready to wear line was most often made in Italy to a very high standard. 


Background - the early years. 


After working for Balenciaga for three years, Ungaro decided to create his own fashion house in 1965. At Zeus Vintage we've had a few of his early pieces from the mid to late 60s and it's interesting to see the difference between then and the look he is known for now. Rather than creating a bold maximalist aesthetic many of his early designs echo what the Parisian and British designers around him were doing. He created clean lines (beautifully constructed, of course) with less of a focus in draping or heavy floral prints and more of creating his own take on the futurism and mod style looks that were popular at the time. Whether it is a splash of texture or a slightly irregular print, you can see in his early work the flamboyance that is soon to come. 

Not only did Emanuel Ungaro create incredible haute couture designs in 1968 he formed the Parallèle label which was his ready to wear line. He was also quite adept at creating classic tailored menswear after the formation of his Ungaro Uomo line in 1975. 


The Heyday - the 1970s and 80s. 



It was in the 1970s that you can see in Ungaro's work the fun that he started to have. The incredible draping that became synonymous with his name was featured on bohemian style dresses with bold pops of colour. This transitioned perfectly to the 1980s where his signature look was a shoulder padded, draped dress usually with a bold, in your face floral or abstract print that made the wearer feel like a powerful, independent woman. The floral patterns on vintage Ungaro dresses were for the modern woman, they weren't the sweet, feminine florals of the 1950s - they were loud and demanded your attention and this attitude is why they still work so well in a woman's wardrobe today. 

At Zeus Vintage we love the exuberance and personality of an 80s Ungaro print but actually my personal favourite designs by him were when he had a slightly darker palette and focused more on silhouette or had a more subtle pattern. These kind of pieces created an almost Gothic, film noir style look with bold shapes or employed Victoriana references like a ruffled high collar and mutton sleeves. I've added a few pictures of pieces we've had in the past and some now to represent what I mean. It is this ability to create differing aesthetics yet still create a cohesive vision for his fashion house that Ungaro should be remembered as one of the greats. 



After Ungaro - the 1990s to today


In 1996 the Ungaro fashion house was bought by Italian label Ferragamo. During this time Ungaro hired designers as creative directors who would become prestigious in their own right like Giambattista Valli and other lesser known designers but they came and went and the house of Ungaro started struggling. In 2005 Emanuel Ungaro retired and the house carried on without him and started losing a lot of money. The perfumes that Ungaro created earlier were still making money, however. 

In an attempt to revitalise the brand and give it a youthful feel, in 2010 Lindsay Lohan was appointed artistic director. This became a moment that not many will forget but not for the right reasons. The collection that Lohan alongside her designing partner, Estrella Archs was panned critically and many high end department stores stopped selling the line after this misstep. The collection was described as "tasteless", "old-fashioned" and "a bad joke" by Vogue. I'll link to the collection here so you can see it in all its nipple pasty, cropped-harem-jumpsuit glory. We do feel like the collection was misjudged and not to our taste but we appreciate that there were slight references to Ungaro's past in an balloon sleeve or a pleated / draped detail on the first dress. Ungaro himself was furious at the collection calling it a 'disaster' and said he felt 'frustrated that there isn't a thing [he] can do'. Lindsay Lohan didn't continue with the house after that collection. 

After this the house of Ungaro has changed creative director too many times to count and hasn't produced a runway collection since spring 2018 (about 3 years ago) instead opting for the cheaper lookbook. Despite the struggles of the house in the last two decades, Emanuel Ungaro is remembered as a fashion giant who made women feel powerful whilst still being full of personality and his vintage clothes certainly reflect that.

You can shop our collection of Emanuel Ungaro clothing here including an incredibly rare haute couture dress. 


Or you can check out our Pinterest board of our favourite Ungaro looks below:



- Scott (co-owner of Zeus Vintage)


Vintage Designer Bio: Escada December 13 2019, 0 Comments


The luxury German fashion house Escada was founded in 1976 by Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley. They became known for their bold, fabulous look that was worn by sophisticated women around the world. Princess Diana of Wales was often seen in Escada, Kim Basinger won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1998 wearing an Escada gown and Naomi Watts more recently wore an Escada dress to the Oscars - showing the brand is still very relevant today. Unfortunately, Margaretha Ley passed away in 1992 but the label still kept her name on the label until the late 90s. 


Key looks

  • Bold patterns - whether that be vibrantly coloured knitwear with images of animals or bright paisley printed silks.
  • Blazers - Escada in the late 80s and 90s was almost synonymous with a sophisticated look worn by a working woman. They were particularly known for their tailored blazers - either in bold colours or patterned with statement buttons and shoulders. 
  • Tight dresses
  • Velvet - Even more so than silks and wool bouclés, vintage Escada clothes are often made of velvet - fitting with their opulent aesthetic. 




How to Wear

 Vintage Escada clothes integrate really well into modern wardrobes but the highly stylised looks in the campaigns of the 80s and 90s might not be for everyone. Picking a statement Escada jumper, or jacket and dressing them down with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt can be a great way to create a bold but modern look. 


A label from an example of the high-end Escada Couture line founded in 1995. 


In 1995 the 'Escada Couture' line was created with a focus on even more expensive fabrication in sleeker silhouettes. We really recommend keeping an eye out for these rare pieces as they are of amazing quality and make a great option for the evening.


To check our our collection of vintage Escada clothing click here


Or feel free to check out our Pinterest board, containing some of our favourite Escada looks from throughout the brand's history below. 



Vintage Designer Bio: Katharine Hamnett November 12 2019, 0 Comments

KATHARINE HAMNETT - The Activist Designer


Katharine Hamnett founded her label in 1979 but it wasn't until she started creating her iconic t-shirts with political slogans on that her career really took off. Worn by huge celebrities of the day, including Wham! Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Naomi Campbell, her sloganed tees were printed with powerful statements like 'Worldwide Nuclear Ban Now', 'Use a Condom' and 'Choose Life' (which is often mistaken for being an anti-abortion slogan but was really intended as an anti-war sentiment). These timeless statements are still so relevant today and because of the classic colouring and simple cut they were much copied, something which is often a big problem for designers, but it actually helped further Hamnett's goals and bring attention to the issues she cared about to the masses. 


Frankie Goes to Hollywood wearing an anti-war t-shirt // Wikimedia Commons


Because of her timeless appeal, Hamnett has recently brought back her label with printing tees with modern political statements like 'Cancel Brexit', 'Save Life on Earth' and 'Choose Love'. 


However, vintage Katharine Hamnett clothing is so much more than her iconic tees, she was also a fantastic designer ahead of her time. Her clothes which were often a mix of sexy and unusual attracted the British club scene of the 1980s and 1990s. We've had so many pieces sold in our store that I really loved, her Katharine Hamnett Denim line (which sold way more than just denim) had some incredible velvet mini dresses, oversized denim jackets and boldly patterned shirts. Her vintage clothes are such great quality too, nearly always made in Italy or the UK. 



 Check out this video above from the Fashion Channel's youtube. 


For me though, one of the reasons why vintage Katharine Hamnett clothing is so great, is down to her brilliant menswear. This can be so hard to find, it is no wonder she had, and still has, such a fierce cult following. I adore the flamboyant, almost androgynous menswear of Hamnett's more famous contemporaries like Jean Paul Gaultier and Gianni Versace but what sets her designs apart is that they all retain more of a laid back masculinity, which is great for different clients or different moods. For example, she was great at taking a traditionally masculine silhouette like a denim trucker jacket and making it more interesting by completely studding it or cutting it from a fine black corduroy. My favourite item of hers we have in stock at the minute is a blue denim jacket which takes a military pea coat shape but elevates it by extending the lapels adding an interesting flair and making it out of an unexpected denim. 


 Vintage Katharine Hamnett denim jacket for men at Zeus Vintage


To see some of our favourite Katharine Hamnett clothes and advertising campaigns, check out our pinterest board below.