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DEFENDING LOHAN: Emanuel Ungaro chief executive officer Mounir Moufarrige dismissed rumors that Lindsay Lohan is on her way out as the label’s “artistic adviser.”

“As we speak, she is in New York in shoots with Ungaro,” he said, amid speculation Ungaro chairman Asim Abdullah was fed up with the controversy and overheated publicity surrounding Lohan. “I totally deny it,” Moufarrige said, referring to a New York Post report Friday that Abdullah wanted to terminate Lohan’s contract after the tabloid sensation’s debut collection — in partnership with Spanish designer Estrella Archs — was mauled by critics in October.

Speaking on the sidelines of a luxury conference in Milan, Moufarrige conceded the decision to appoint Lohan was “controversial, but then fashion is controversial anyway, and you need some novelties and you need to test some new ideas.” He added that Lohan, whom he described as a “walking, talking advertisement,” was helping to raise Ungaro’s profile and widen the brand’s appeal to a younger audience.

“There are some girls out there that whenever they move, whatever they wear, they attract attention, even if they make mistakes. It’s all publicity,” Moufarrige said. “We’ve got a celebrity and it’s a new concept, which we’re going ahead with.” Underscoring the point, Moufarrige said Ungaro’s sales in its own stores had “improved” since Lohan’s appointment, even though the starlet’s collection had not yet hit the shelves.

“[Ungaro], let’s recognize it, was a dormant brand, and now everybody’s talking about it today, so the level of awareness has improved greatly,” he added.

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