If you have visited the Modig studio, or if you have been following our website or 1stdibs inventory over the years, you know how much we love vintage Escada! Many years ago, when we would visit or preview an estate of clothing, we would always take the vintage Margaretha Ley for Escada pieces. At the time, no one else really paid much attention to them. We stockpiled them, knowing they were something special that would one day be valued and appreciated.
So why are we so in love with vintage Margaretha Ley for Escada?
#1. The prints!
Margaretha Ley created the most memorable novelty prints, especially for her gorgeous silk blouses. The blouses rivaled couture designer tops in their quality of construction and innovation in design. In contrast to the monochromatic grays and beiges of recent years, Margaretha Ley used bold colors in original prints that added so much originality to an outfit. From bombshell icons, animals and shoes to gambling, fashion design and other hobbies, her prints where uniquely whimsical without compromising sophistication.
#2. The designs
Modig means brave in Swedish, an homage to our fashion philosophy and our heritage, so maybe it's not a coincidence that we are slightly obsessed with a Swedish fashion designer. Escada's design aesthetic is for brave women who know themselves and are passionate about fashion without taking it too seriously.
Margaretha Ley understood and appreciated designs that reached outside of the box. Even the simplest pieces were always given a subtle twist, from the iconic Escada detailed buttons, to a dramatic cut or stunning fabric, to make them anything but ordinary!
#4. The Fabrics!
The next time you consider purchasing a piece of clothing, even online, take a look at the fabric content. A disturbing trend we've noticed over the past 10-15 years is for clothing manufacturers to use man made, less expensive fabrics instead of natural fibers, while still charging premium prices. It's unfortunate not only because these companies are charging the same price for a lesser quality garment, but because man made fabrics are harmful to the environment. Natural fibers are also better for your skin because they allow it to breathe! In some instances, as with new leather or fur pieces, for example, the faux choice would most likely be the better one, but those pieces should only make up a small portion of anyone's wardrobe.
We love that even Margaretha Ley used nothing but the finest fabrics, including cashmere, wool, mohair, silk, suede, leather, alpaca, linen, rayon and cotton. She mixed textures, colors and prints to create interesting ensembles that had an effortless richness to them.
#5. The quality!
When people ask us how to know what pieces of clothing to collect, we tell them the one thing always stands the test of time when it comes to collecting fashion: quality! Just like location being the main thing in real estate, quality will always be the thing to look for in a vintage collectible garment.
As clothing becomes more disposable, and the quality of even high end pieces continues to go way down, we have come to appreciate our vintage collection, especially our Escada pieces, more and more. It's so rare to find high quality clothing today, most of it is unlined, seams are hastily finished, buttons are made of cheap plastic, and the pieces lack details or elements to set them apart from the rest.
When you handle a piece of clothing that is well made, you will be amazed at the attention to detail and the overall "feel" of the piece. Many fashion students and younger shoppers who visit our studio are blown away when they try on a piece of vintage clothing that was well made because they have never felt that kind of quality before. They usually run their fingers over the fabrics and sigh, never wanting to take the piece off! It's always the reaction we get when someone tries on an Escada piece - it's quality you can literally feel.
So who was the famous Margaretha Ley? The Swedish born beauty first went to Paris when she won a "Miss Sweden" Beauty contest. She worked for a while as a model for Jacques Fath and Christian Dior and began her career in fashion design as a seamstress at the royal house of Sweden in Stockholm in the early 1960s, where she mastered the art of draping and cutting.
Fashion designer Margaretha Ley being honored with the 1988 Fashion Prize of the city of Munich during the opening of the fashion week in Munich, Germany (copyrighted image)
Escada, named after a racehorse, was launched in Munich, West Germany in 1976 by Ley and her second husband, Wolfgang. The tireless designer was known to work for 100 hours per week and was passionate about her business. It paid off and her efforts definitely showed in her incredible collections.
Margaretha Ley died at the young age of only 59 in 1992. Though Escada lives on and has had some successful collections, including those designed by Todd Oldham, we particularly love Margaretha Ley's pieces. Luckily, they are now becoming highly sought after and we are so glad that people are starting to re-discover Margaretha Ley! Ley's legacy lives on and our love affair with vintage Escada continues!
We hope the brave woman in you will come to love and appreciate these incredible pieces as much as we do!
You can shop our entire Escada collection here.