People Staff
December 06, 2007 AT 11:00 AM EST

The prestigious French couture house Emanuel Ungaro announced yesterday that Esteban Cortázar is their new head designer. The 23-year-old will be in charge of the company’s Prét-à-Porter (Ready-to-Wear) line, headquartered in Paris.

“I’m living a dream right now. I’m 23 and I have so much to do and this is such a great vehicle,” Cortázar, who beat out 17 other designers for the position, told The Miami Herald. “The past month has been the most intense of my life.”

As part of his new contract, the fashion expert had to discontinue his own line.

“I had to give them a concept to revitalize the brand and make it hip and cool and relevant,” explained Cortázar. His first collection for Ungaro will be shown at Fashion Week in Paris this spring.

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Cortázar moved to Miami when he was 11. There he attended the Design and Architecture Senior High School, and at 18 he became the youngest designer to present at New York Fall Fashion Week. Even before graduating from high school, his designs were already being sold at stores like Bloomingdale’s and Henri Bendel.

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