Escada is a brand synonymous with sporty elegance. Indeed, it was under this concept that the label’s founders, Wolfgang and Margaretha Ley, showcased their first collection in 1978. Over 35 years later, after launching sister line Escada Sport, a range of fragrances, homeware, accessories and, most recently, a watch and jewellery line, the German company remains one of the key players on the international fashion stage.
The current fashion director, Daniel Wingate, joined Escada as a senior designer in 2004 and has applied the decade of knowledge he’s gained at the label to his bold yet refined spring/summer 2015 collection. After 10 years at the same brand, some designers might find their fount of inspiration drying up. Not Wingate. He is still overflowing with ideas thanks to his passion for international exploration. ‘I find inspiration in many things, but mostly by travelling and experiencing new cultures, foods and languages,’ the designer admits. ‘For spring/summer 2015 the inspiration is flowers – what I call my botanical beauties.’ From jewel-toned gowns, jumpsuits and cropped satin trousers to floral-printed blazers and shorts, the latest Escada collection continues the house’s prestigious tradition of luxurious chic, while slipping in a few contemporary surprises.
Escada’s recent revitalisation is partly thanks to Wingate’s efforts (with full support from chairwoman and managing director Megha Mittal, someone the designer regularly cites as a perfect example of the Escada woman). In addition to the latest collection, this spring the brand is launching an exciting capsule collection: Escada meets Thilo Westermann. Taking the young German artist’s Vanitas series of paintings as its starting point, the brand has applied pointillist-style flower patterns and graphic designs to a stunning evening gown, a blazer and a coordinated trouser and top, among other garments.
The level of artistry involved in Westermann’s work is extraordinary –each of his paintings is composed of individual hand-rendered dots – and Wingate is so proud of this collaboration that he cites the show-stopping Orchid dress as his favourite look from his spring/summer 2015 designs.
Originally from Florida in the USA, Wingate names his mother as his first fashion icon. ‘My mother was always very fashion conscious, and I think I got the fashion bug from her,’ he explains. ‘I thought at first I wanted to be an interior designer, but in the end got accepted to Parsons in New York and chose fashion.’
Following his studies at the prestigious New York clothing-design school, Wingate then spent time at Geoffrey Beene and Hugo Boss before joining Escada. After a decade with the brand Wingate still ‘feels great’ about his involvement and the new projects he takes on each season. ‘Although time goes by so fast, and fashion does as well. I would say the biggest change for fashion [in the past 10 years] has been the internet: information is faster, and stores are now open 24 hours worldwide. It’s amazing,’ Wingate continues.
Though Escada currently has no plans to move into menswear, Wingate himself is, of course, always impeccably turned out. So what are his essential components to creating a suave look? ‘I like a good cologne, a perfectly cut suit or jacket, and shoes are very important. I love sneakers, but also classic English brogues which have been made by hand.’ With his passion for casual as well as chic footwear, Wingate shows that, like Escada, he isn’t afraid to give a sporty spin to a tailored look.
In terms of style rules, Wingate puts an emphasis on ‘grooming, good hair and good teeth’ but also on being true to your own look. ‘Invest in quality. Know the trends, but don’t be too trendy and know yourself and what looks good on you.’ There is one exception to this rule, however – Wingate draws the line at ‘anything with a skull on it’, a fashion motif he would ban if he had the power.
The joys of spring
Much like its colourful spring collection, the future for Escada is bright. Wingate is most excited about the collaboration with Nymphenburg porcelain for autumn/winter 2015/16: something to keep an eye out for once summer is over. Given that the two brands are headquartered in Munich, this style union makes perfect sense and, thanks to their combined history, a stunning product range is sure to await.
With its vision to make Escada ‘joyful, daring, individual, luxurious and contagious’, Wingate is most definitely succeeding.