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Badgley Mischka


“One zip, and you look fabulous” is how designer Mark Badgley summed up the essence of Badgley Mischka.

The luxury clothing brand that produces mainly evening dresses, and has lines of wedding dresses, children’s clothes, shoes, jewelry, decoration, sunglasses, sports, ready-to-wear and perfume, has as its main inspiration and style the 1940s Hollywood glamour. The woman who wears and inspires its clothes, according to the brand, is of all ages, has a youthful air, appreciates well-made clothes and is modern.

The brand was created in 1988 by stylists James Mischka and Mark Badgley, with the little money the pair had at the time.

To that end, they both quit their jobs, Badgley working as an assistant to stylist Donna Karan, and Mischka as an assistant menswear stylist to designer Willi Smith.

To name the brand, the stylists decided to merge their last names, and then Badgley Mischka was born.

Lightness through Dark – a celebration of Caravaggio-inspired glamour. Introducing Badgley Mischka Fall 2018.

From the beginning, the brand produced elegant and luxurious dresses, using expensive fabrics and often covering them with adornments such as pearls, thus forming exclusive pieces.

In the same year they opened the brand, they presented a collection that did not attract much attention and was not successful.

They continued running through the streets of New York trying to close sales, until they showed their second collection, which, unlike the first, brought orders placed by major American luxury department chains such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, and Neiman Marcus.

With the success of the second show, which featured elegant and ultra-feminine dresses, the brand not only gained buyers, but also started a list of loyal customers, who were not frightened by the prices of the dresses, which often reached US$5,000.

Badgley Mischka Fall/Winter 2018.

In this second show, a palette of metallic colors was presented, something that would become a signature of the brand. The fabrics in the collection were ruffled and beaded, purposely aged (so they wouldn’t look plastic and new) and embellished with expensive ornaments. They also used drano and dry cleaning techniques to remove the orange hue from the gold threads. Another thing they did was bathe pearls in a drano bath to get a more old-fashioned patina.

Even though sales were doing well, the brand was, at the time, in financial trouble, until, in 1992, the Escada AG group bought 80% of the maison. Badgley and Mischka were excited about the sale, as they could start using even more exclusive fabrics with the group’s financial support.

Soon the brand increased its customer base and managed to dress celebrities such as Winona Ryder, Angela Bassett and Sharon Stone. It wasn’t just celebrities who appreciated the brand’s dresses, women executives who could afford them were also interested.

Mischka said in an interview that the brand’s customers dress almost like men during the day, and that bores them, so at night they want an exaggerated glamorous look.

Until 1996, the brand only produced luxury dresses, but when customers started asking for dresses in colors such as white and off-white for their weddings, the brand decided to open a line of wedding dresses.

Badgley Mischka bride in a dress of the 2019 collection.

With the success of the brand and the financial support of the Escada AG group, Badgley Mischka was able to open its shoe, bag and clothing for the day lines in the year 2000.

It also managed to open its first store in Beverly Hills, near the epicenter of Hollywood glamor that continued to inspire the brand.

They managed to establish a production scheme in which the brand’s fabrics went from Europe to the United States, where they were cut, sewn, and transformed into dresses. From there, they were sent to Mumbai, India, to be decorated with pearls and the like. When they returned to the United States to be sold, the dresses were already expensive not only with treatments, but also with an average of 70,000 air miles.

Badgley Mischka.

Again, despite the success, as of 2001, the brand was not making profits, and this time, its majority partner, the Escada AG group, was also experiencing financial problems. The group decided to sell its 80% of Badgley Mischka in late 2003 to the Candie’s group. It was then sold to the Iconix Brand group and currently belongs to the Titan Industries group.

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Some of the celebrities who are among the brand’s customers: Taylor Swift, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Garner, Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Mirren, Ashley Judd, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen ( former brand ambassadors), Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julia Roberts e Halle Berry.

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Bibliography: Callan, Georgina O’Hara; Enciclopédia da moda de 1840 à década de 90 / Georgina O’Hara Callan ; verbetes brasileiros Cynthia Garcia : tradução Glória Maria de Mello Carvalho, Maria Ignez França – São Paulo : Companhia das Letras, 2007.

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