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In 1978, Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley presented their first collection under the name “ESCADA – Sporty Elegance.” This event laid the foundation for a new business idea that was as simple as it was successful: the “democratization” of elite haute couture. ESCADA offered: top quality in fabrics, fit and workmanship at affordable prices; sophisticated, imaginative design and extremely comfortable wear; a coordinate system with individual components that were perfectly color-coordinated to allow mixing & matching through several seasons.
Margaretha Ley, a former Swedish model, had a solid education in tailoring and ample experience with demanding customers. But she also had an exquisite feel for colors, a devotion to detail, and a sure sense for what many women desired – a feminine elegance that doesn’t shy away from bright contrasts and striking elements. Bold color combinations, opulent embroideries, combinations of patterns, and leopard prints endowed ESCADA’s early creations with a touch of irrepressible joie de vivre. This fashion style was exactly in tune with the extroverted spirit of the 1980s.
ESCADA first created spectacular knitwear designs that featured exquisite inlays and appliqués on pullovers and jackets. These earned Margaretha Ley the renowned international Mohair Council for Excellence in Design award, and were soon followed by cleverly elaborate leather prints that became all the rage with both merchants and customers. The collections kept getting larger, and the designer team grew with them. Twelve different fashion themes per season, each based on a wide range of different fabrics, were designed to ensure a diversity of styles for individual markets.
By this point, the most sought-after Italian and French textiles manufacturers and silk printing companies were working for ESCADA. And weaving and spinning mills as well as Europe’s most innovative printers were developing proprietary threads, fabrics and ESCADA colors for the company. With her very feminine, breathtakingly glamorous cocktail and evening fashions, ESCADA created the distinctive look that has shaped the brand image. The ESCADA collection soon included not only a very exclusive couture line but also an extensive range of accessories such as shoes, bags, small leather accessories and costume jewelry.
The most beautiful supermodels, such as Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder, Paulina Porizkova, Nadja Auermann and Rachel Zimmermann, presented the world of ESCADA in elaborately designed catalogs and ad campaigns, and film stars and other celebrities were frequently seen wearing ESCADA.
After Margaretha Ley’s death in 1992, Brian Rennie was appointed as creative director in 1994. Rennie managed the rejuvenation of the brand and its adaptation to the more low-key look of the 1990s, also by launching the ESCADA SPORT line. The brand regained its power with a colorful and sensual “New Elegance” feel as a playful expression of joie de vivre. In 1998, Hollywood Star Kim Basinger accepted her Oscar in a pistachio-colored satin gown by ESCADA Couture, reconfirming the brand’s international high-class image.
Today ESCADA has interpreted its brand values in a new, updated way: cool glamour, sensual femininity and modern elegance are the hallmarks of the ESCADA brand line. ESCADA stands for fashion dressing women appropriately for every occasion. The brand offers a lifestyle concept filled with everything from must-have everyday items for business and leisure to red carpet occasions. The ESCADA woman is naturally drawn to the limelight and loves a feminine and glamorous yet fresh, modern style. The ESCADA SPORT line today represents creative casualwear for sexy, dynamic women with a youthful spirit who love an easy, uncomplicated and relaxed chic. The collection focuses on knitwear, jersey, outerwear and denim and offers items that can be mixed and matched. Exclusive, enchanting color palettes highlight seasonal trends and prints in every collection. Innovative fabrics, high quality detailing and embroideries as well as excellent fit and exclusive workmanship reinforce the high-end level of all ESCADA collections.