PARIS - The president of foundering Paris-based label Emanuel Ungaro - who hired Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan last season in what critics decried as a desperate move to revive the flagging brand - has stepped down, the fashion house said in a statement Wednesday.
Lebanese-born businessman Mounir Moufarrige is leaving "in order to devote more time to his other businesses, namely, in the watch and jewelry industry," the statement said.
A press officer for the Ungaro said Moufarrige, who joined the label in 2006, will continue to serve on its strategic committee as an adviser on an "as-needed basis."
Moufarrige has made a specialty out of reviving semi-dormant brands: His achievements include turning the Montblanc pen into a cult object and hiring then little-known designer Stella McCartney at Chloe, which has since become a hot label for the under-40s set.
Once favoured by Hollywood's elite, Ungaro had been bleeding money since its founder retired in 2004. However, Moufarrige struggled to turn the label around, and his attempts to appeal to younger consumers appeared to grow ever more desperate as the years ticked by.
The house became a revolving door, as Moufarrige hired and fired designer after designer. Critically hailed wunderkind Esteban Cortazar, who joined Ungaro in 2007 at age 23, left just weeks before last October's spring-summer 2010 collections.
Moufarrige replaced him with young Spanish designer Estrella Archs and brought on as artistic adviser "Freaky Friday" star Lohan - who, despite having her own line of leggings, is more noted for her regular appearances in tabloids than her design ability.
The result was disastrous.
The runway show ended in a scrum, with hundreds of journalists vying for shots of Lohan, who appeared dazed under the lights of the flashbulbs. Critics ravaged the hastily thrown together collection of ultra mini-dresses and skintight pants paired with pasties.
Wednesday's brief statement said Ungaro vice-president Marie Fournier has been named general manager "to oversee all operations." It did not provide any further details.