BY: HAL RUBENSTEIN
Trends come and go. Designers are hot, then they’re not. And yet, for 30 years Mark Badgely and James Mischka have prevailed, even thrived in fashion because of an unwavering promise they’ve made to themselves and their customers – that all women should be able to feel and look as if they are movie stars. Their unshakeable trust in the classic ingredients that radiate elegance, drama, and panache have earned them permanent residency on the most-watched red carpets and in the closets of legendary best-dressed women. Any gown from their bridal line can induce fantasies of a royal wedding. They are proof that beauty is not merely in the eye of the beholder. It’s sewn into to any dress that boasts a Badgely-Mischka label.
INTERVIEW WITH BADGELY MISCHKA
HR: What elements of design do you think have stayed true to the BM brand over three decades?
BM: There is a through line of glamour in everything we do. Glamour combined with elegance and modernity. Because we’re living in a more casual time, it’s a breath of fresh air when a woman discovers herself in beautiful clothes. It may start out as a novelty, but pretty soon, she starts seeking new opportunities to pamper herself and reasons to dress up.
HR: What do you know now that you didn’t know then?
BM: When we started we thought we knew everything, and we were right about women wanting to look beautiful in a dress that’s comfortable, makes her feel special and is everlasting. However, it’s always a challenge keeping pace with the way retail and communication works. The dissemination of fashion used to come from a few sources. Now there are thousands of voices to listen to. Shoppers want everything available immediately and. online, especially the generation that doesn’t like to shop in a store. However, expensive clothes are tricky to post on the internet. You have to be very strategic in making sure they have impact when seen on a smart phone.
HR: Your greatest source of inspiration has always been…
BM: Those glorious movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age when women dressed to dazzle, and even stars like Bette Davis, who wasn’t really beautiful, transformed into a stunner in Now, Voyager thanks to a wardrobe of extraordinary clothes..
HR: But as you cited, our culture seems to get more casual day by day. So how do your designs stay relevant?
BM: Thanks to our training, we both know sportswear construction. So, we know how to make even the most intricate gown feel like sportwear on the body. Advances in fabric technology have helped made this possible. In addition, we’ve streamlined our silhouettes. Plus, evening separates, like a romantic blouse and slim clean lined pants offer a true modern look.
You can’t go wrong with simple,
streamlined piece, with a sense of
lightness like the Gabriel & Co.
pieces you showed us and that you
used in the shoot.
HR: Does the red carpet still matter as much as it use
BM: It remains extremely influential. Because women don’t shop in person as often, the carpet takes the place of the department store window. Seeing actresses strut their stuff is an enormous source of inspiration.
HR: Are there certain silhouettes, shapes or necklines that flatter particular body types?
BM: There are so many factors to consider in design. We find that a large busted woman feels more confident in an open neckline. Women with a pear shape can look divine in a fitted bodice with a full skirt flowing out after grazing the hips.
HR: Should a woman shop for an evening gown the way she does a one-night-only bridal gown or does longevity matter?
BM: At this price point, people often shop for a specific purpose. You’re not likely to buy the same dress for a cocktail party as you would a dinner party where you’re only seen from the waist up. So, your dress should be appropriate for that chosen event. Of course, it’s a bonus when it works more occasions, and luckily, we design gowns to last for years, because we’re more influenced by classicism than trends. In addition, there is no longer a stigma about wearing a gown more than once. Once it raised eyebrows. Now, it’s considered smart.
HR: Speaking of bridal, what are the factors that are key to the perfect wedding dress?
BM: Nothing is more important than an impeccable fit. The wedding dress is usually the first time in a woman’s life she has multiple fittings to make sure she looks like a million bucks. But it can be a perpetual boost to your personal style if you don’t forget that having any dress properly fitted to your body will give you that same rush of confidence.
HR: How do you determine how to best accessorize a dress for that “big night” or “big day?”
BM: We love jewelry, seeing that diamond drop earring that sparkles under a veil, or a soft diamond tennis bracelet gleaming next to the bouquet. Plus, these are pieces you will pass on from generation to generation. They immediately become essential memories of your day as a bride.
HR: Do certain kinds or styles of jewelry work better than others?
BM: You can’t go wrong with simple, streamlined piece, with a sense of lightness like the Gabriel & Co pieces you showed us and that you used in the shoot. Still, who doesn’t love a huge diamond, but it should be framed with featherweight filigree. We would pair modern pieces with a lacy gown, vintage with a sleek one. And diamond hair ornaments are always eye-catching.
HR: But you don’t believe evening wear should appear stripped down either.
BM: When we started, there was huge trend for wearing no accessories. We would go to black tie events and sit next to our clients who were carrying diamonds in their clutch bags but they were afraid to wear them. We are so glad that’s over. We also don’t believe in ever opting for a stripped-down look. We’re magpies. More is more. Getting all dressed without putting on jewelry is not much different than going out naked.
MARK & JAMES5TIPS FOR BRIDES
Try on more dresses than your normal style. Explore the possibilities. You may surprise yourself.
It’s great the make a grand statement coming down the aisle but do you deal with that much dress in what will prove to be a long day or evening? We recommend lightweight gowns, ones with detachable trains and bustles, or for the bride who wants to enjoy her own party, a second dress she can dance the night away in.
If you never wear your hair up, put it in ringlets, or opt for a smoky eye or blood red lip, why transform into someone else on your wedding day. It’s never been more important or satisfying that you present your guests the best version of you.
Our favorite bouquet is a cluster of magnolias. The blossom is pure, white and spongy and easy to hold. And the strong leaf gleams with a dramatic, waxy glow.
Height matters, especially when the dress is so long. However, a spike heel is a lot to endure indoors and dangerous outdoors. Choose a wrapped, high-stacked platform. You get the height, stability and the comfort you need. And a bride never takes off her shoes.