Woman's Shift Dress by Ungaro
This sleeveless, shift-style dress was made in Italy of brown wool gabardine by Emanuel Ungaro (1933-2019), probably within the first few years of Ungaro Paralléle, the label Ungaro launched in 1968 after establishing his company in 1965.
The garment was donated to the university in 1987 by Isabelle Weinstein, described in her obituary as “a lifelong resident of Providence [RI]”. Ms. Weinstein was born in 1921 and would have been in her late 40’s if she purchased and wore this dress. Her daughter, Jacalyn Brookner (1945-2015), a graduate of Wellesley College and noted artist, environmentalist, and educator, would be a candidate for the original owner of this dress. An article in the Providence Journal wrote that at the beginning of Bob Dylan’s career he accepted Jacalyn’s invitation to their home, where he visited the family and played the piano. The short hemline, casual design and shift-style, popular in the 1960s and early 1970s, would be a more fashionable outfit for a woman in her mid 20s than one almost 50 years of age.
The dress buttons up the front using seven large brown and white buttons with bound buttonholes. The 2-inch wide leather belt sits at the natural waist. There is a patch pocket on each hip and another over the proper right bust, each with a flap folded to the outside and secured by a button. The dress is fully lined. A brand tag with “emanuel ungaro / paralléle - paris” is stitched to the back of the neck with a size 12 tag sewn underneath. A “Made in Italy” tag is sewn along the proper right side seam.
Ungaro’s father was a tailor, originally Italian, who had moved his family to France prior to his son’s birth because of fascist uprisings. Ungaro was quoted in the Boston Globe (1965) as saying, “My father is like a god to me. He taught me to respect line and quality, and to take pains with every stitch.”
After working for three years in his father’s tailoring business, determined to make a career in fashion, he left his hometown for Paris when he was 21 or 22. There he worked in the tailoring industry. In 1958 Ungaro became employed at Cristóbal Balenciaga’s (1895-1972) fashion house, where he spent six years absorbing Balenciaga’s ideas about line, color, and how to drape fabric on the body. In 1964 he moved to the house of André Courrèges (1923-2016), who had also once worked for Balenciaga and recently produced his revolutionary “Space Age” collection. Ungaro established his own business in 1965 and by 1972 was established as a designer of significance. His clients included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Catherine Deneuve.
According to Ungaro's obituary in The Guardian, he launched his ready-to-wear line, Ungaro Parallele, in 1968 to guarantee a steady stream of revenue to help finance his couture enterprise. This dress's label dates to this time, with his name spelled out in the upper line and the words paralléle - paris underneath. None of the label's words have capital letters. The horizontal label is simple, reflecting the simple lines of the dresses that form the Paralléle line.
Ungaro became known for his use of patterns and colors, combining geometrics with florals on bright silks. The business remained successful through the 1970s and 1980s, expanding into the men's clothing market as well as producing perfumes for both men and women. The following decade, however, saw a decline in his business fortunes and in 1996, Ungaro sold a majority interest of the company to Salvatore Ferragamo. He retired in 2005.
Genzlinger, Neil. Emanuel Ungaro Obituary, New York Times, December 23, 2019.
Gunther-Rosenberg, A. (2003, October 11). House of the week - Providence contemporary stands out from the crowd. Providence Journal (RI), pp. E-04. Available from newsbank: access world news – historical and current: https://infoweb-newsbank-com.Uri.Idm.Oclc.Org/apps/news/document-view?P=worldnews&docref=news/1524D43777573C80.
Horwell, Veronica. Emanual Ungaro Obituary, The Guardian, December 25, 2019.
Isabelle Weinstein, Obituary (2009) - Providence, RI - the Providence Journal. (2009, december 12). Retrieved March, 2021, from https://www.Legacy.Com/obituaries/providence/obituary.Aspx?N=isabelle-weinstein-weinstein&pid=137196564
Maison Emanuel Ungaro. (2019, February 25). Retrieved March, 2021, from http://www.Ungaro.Com/maison/
Ungaro, Emanuel. (2010, July 22). Retrieved March, 2021, from https://vintagefashionguild.Org/label-resource/ungaro-emanuel/
Yaeger, L. (2019, December 23). From the archives: A Celebration of Emanuel Ungaro's Work In Vogue. Retrieved March, 2021, from https://www.Vogue.Com/article/emanuel-ungaro-tribute-french-fashion-designer
Susan J. Jerome, M.S. '06
Ungaro Parallele label