Rita Ora and the German fashion brand Escada are gearing up for a common cause: Fashion for independent and strong women to help women become strong and independent. Named a house ambassador in January, Ora has teamed up with Escada global design director Niall Sloan to create a special edition of the brand’s iconic heart bag that debuts today, Thursday, March 28, on Escada.com and in Escada boutiques worldwide for $1,195. The 41-year old label will donate 15 euros (about $16.87) from each bag sold to the charity Women for Women International, which aims to help female survivors of war rebuild their lives. The donations will fund the organization’s efforts in Ora’s native Kosovo.
Having left the country at age 1, Ora doesn’t personally recall the 1990s Balkan crisis yet she has very close ties to her native country. “I go back as often as I can; it’s a very important place to me,” Ora tells The Hollywood Reporter. Kosovo also made Ora an ambassador. “I was honored with the title a few years ago by former President Atifete Jahjaga,” she said, adding that she will return to Kosovo in April to do some charity work with the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF).
Ora met Sloan in London last year (they both live there; Sloan splits his time between a creative studio in London and the Escada design studios in Munich) and they “immediately connected” with a shared desire to bring a contemporary edge to the brand founded by former Swedish model Margaretha Ley and husband Wolfgang that saw its heyday in the 80’s and 90’s with lively color combinations and bold prints. The company’s aim was to “democratize the exacting values of haute couture,” according to the Escada website, and usher in a more casual approach to glamour. The energetic ad campaigns featured a stellar lineup of ’90s supermodels: Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Karen Mulder, Paulina Porizkova, Nadja Auermann, Gail Elliot and Rachel Zimmermann.
I’m so proud to be working with @womenforwomenuk and @escadaofficial to support female empowerment. This incredible charity helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives. To celebrate #InternationalWomensDay 2019, I’ve joined the charity’s #MessageToMySister campaign and sent a message of sisterhood and solidarity to a woman survivor of war. Watch this space for a special project with ESCADA x Women for Women International soon – stay tuned! #RitaESCADA
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Ora and Sloan hope to capitalize on that legacy by bringing Ora to the brand to introduce it to a new generation of fans, who can’t get enough of ’90s fashion. “It is a brand that I have grown up with and a leading heritage brand with incredible vintage pieces in their archives,” says Ora, who additionally partnered with Giuseppe Zanotti on a footwear collection earlier this year.
The duo chose the heart bag for its embodiment of “positivity, love, women and relationships,” said the singer. The classic bag has been updated with exaggerated heart-shaped leather ridges; an oversized resin chain and heart replace the gold hardware that usually graces the bag. “We wanted to create a modern twist on the heart and show the complexity of women, relationships, etcetera, with a multi-layered approach,” she continued, noting that the bag is in her signature color, often displayed on her perfectly lined red lips. “Red is such a powerful color. It has stand-out value and is so versatile.”
And Ora’s bold moves reach beyond fashion and beauty cues. “I think you need to take risks; whether that is in music, fashion or life in general. Once you learn to break the rules and be true to who you are as a person, as an artist, you feel inspired to create magic,” she says, also offering some advice for those females embarking on a career in entertainment: “Work hard. Be persistent. Always be grateful.”