BERLIN — Wolfgang Ley, founder and ex-chief executive officer of Escada, is getting back into fashion action. He's taken a stake in the Munich ready-to-wear company Stiff and is also helping the Italian cashmere specialist Lanificio Colombo develop a complete men's and women's apparel line.
Ley would not disclose financial details of either arrangement.
Stiff, known for its tailored jackets, also served as a contractor for Escada. Ley said the company's name would change, but its management will remain in place.
"I'm a silent investor and will be helping with the company's structure, finances, design and distribution," he explained. "Stiff didn't have the money to build the [jackets] range into a full-scale collection, and I will be using my know-how, experience and contacts to provide the company with the right people."
One of them is designer Thomas Rath, who was most recently chief designer of Riani and who previously worked for Windsor and Jil Sander. The first collection under Rath's direction will be shown this coming June for what Ley called "very strict distribution" to wholesale accounts in Europe, including Eastern Europe, and Asia.
Ley considers Colombo, however, to be his "main job. Director Roberto Colombo contacted me to see if I would be interested in helping them build a structure and platform for a high-end men's and women's wear collection. I spoke to the Escada investors and they said sure," he told WWD. "This will be a small, high-end luxury collection and not in competition with Escada."
Ley said he was offered a small share in the company, but this has yet to be decided. "I'm not looking to buy a company, but it's generally good to have a little share. But they came to me. I'm not looking for a job," he emphasized. "And I don't want to sit on boards. But this is about taking the most beautiful materials and turning them into an irresistible product. I will build a distribution platform for rtw, which will take about three years. And if it's successful, I will then hand it back over to the company."
Ley has opened a 4,000-square-foot Colombo showroom in Dornach, not far from Escada headquarters, outside of Munich. The Colombo collection, which is designed by Ron van der Kamp, can also be seen in the company's showroom in Milan.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast