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  • November 18, 2023 3 min read

    Still gorgeous after all these years

    The Marghab company may have long shut its doors, but Marghab linens haven’t lost their edge. Decades have passed since the last of their patterns were hand embroidered in Madeira, but the linens that remain are as magnificent as ever.

    Sit at a table laid with Marghab linens, and you’ll know exactly why. Embellished napkins of the finest Irish linen feel cool and silky in your hands. The detailed gracefulness of a placemat lays before you like a work of art—a deer looking up at the moon, or a hydrangea flower sculpted onto organdy (Marghab offered over 300 different patterns). Studied up close, perhaps traced with a finger, the almost impossible exactness of the handwork is a marvel of human skill. Marghab is a rare experience of beauty that you can both see and touch.

    On their own merits, Marghab linens are extraordinary, guided famously and relentlessly by the pursuit of perfection. Compare them to anything made today, and your appreciation will soar. The quality of Marghab linens is practically impossible to duplicate any longer.

    That combination of skillful hand embroidery on superior fabrics, marked by attention to detail, right down to exquisitely finished hems, is very rare—and incredibly expensive. No one makes such things anymore, because it’s simply not cost effective. These days you’re more likely to encounter hurriedly embroidered pieces on mid-quality fabric, offered in all seriousness as “fine linen". For genuinely fine linen, turn to Marghab.

    The exclusive world of Marghab

    The Marghab name isn't so well known now. The glory days of fine linen are definitely removed from our world, and the company itself closed in 1980. But there was a time you didn’t have to introduce Marghab, or explain how magnificent their linens were—the whole world knew it.

    In the mid 20th century, Marghab was synonymous with luxury and style. Marghab linens were available only at exclusive stores like George Jensen, Neiman-Marcus, Bullock’s Willshire, and the like, where each housed a special Marghab boutique to showcase the brand.

    Marketed as superior in every way, Marghab linens more than lived up to the hype. Tablecloths, placemat sets, handkerchiefs, cocktail napkins and more—each piece of Marghab was a finely crafted luxury, acquired by the rich and famous, and anyone of better means and taste.

    A little history

    Succeeding in this luxury linen market was a huge accomplishment for a firm out of Madeira, that small Portuguese island in the far off waters of the Atlantic. Today of course, Madeira embroidery is famous for a quality that rightly sets it apart from the rest. But it wasn’t always that way. When Emile and Vera Marghab started their company in 1932, the market for fine linens was dominated by French and Italian companies. While Madeira had an established hand embroidery industry since about 1850, its exports were directed to more everyday linens—handkerchiefs, small napkins, pillowcases, etc.

    But Marghab, along with a few other companies in Madeira, decided that with some fresh approaches, Madeira had potential as serious competition in that luxury market. Using the talented cottage industry as a foundation, Marghab developed original designs that incorporated different European techniques, using only the best linen from Ireland, specially developed cotton organdy from Switzerland, and demanding the most exacting handwork from its local needlewomen.

    Driven by standards of uncompromising perfection, Marghab turned their ambitious venture into an exciting creative success. In the process, Marghab gave fine Madeira embroidery an international spotlight that has never dimmed. And for almost 50 years, Marghab produced some of the most beautiful linens in the world.

    It was a remarkable run, but over time, rising production costs and changing tastes eroded the company’s financial viability. By the early 1980’s, Marghab had closed down. An era was over.

    The story isn’t finished

    But that’s not really the end of Marghab. The company may have closed its doors, but the linens live on. There are superb Marghab pieces out there—tablecloths, placemats, napkins and the most fabulous cocktail napkins imaginable. Marghab linens were made very fine and lovely, but also expressly made to last. Add to this an original costliness which ensured gentle treatment and tender care over the years, and it is great news for lovers of fine linen: most vintage Marghab comes to us in marvelous condition, and as entrancing as ever.

    If you love a gorgeous table graced with extraordinary linens, Marghab offers remarkable quality, with imaginative and beautiful designs, and a timelessness that transcends fads. Marghab will set your table apart.

    But it goes beyond this. Marghab’s uncompromising standards and relentless pursuit of perfection resulted in more than just “fine linen”—Marghab created true works of textile art.