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Interview: Badgley Mischka

Alissa Ponchione and Stacy Shoemaker Rauen • May 23, 2017

Photos: Recent Projects

When iconic fashion duo James Mischka and Mark Badgley launched their eponymous brand nearly 30 years ago, they discovered a desire for Old Hollywood-inspired gowns that oozed glamour. Soon, Badgley Mischka became synonymous with sartorial elegance. Celebrity fans like Jennifer Lopez, Kate Winslet, and Sharon Stone were photographed donning their wears on red carpets the world over.

But it was a moment at Stone’s house that encouraged them to explore home furnishings. “We laid out 55 couture dresses across her living room,” and thought it would make a beautiful carpet, says Mischka. A year ago, they started sketching and developing their 75-piece dining, living, and bedroom collections, in addition to accent furniture, casegoods, upholstered items, accessories, and candles, which launched in February during their fall/winter 2017 fashion show at New York Fashion Week.

In a surprising set, furniture vignettes from the collection ran the length of the runway, while models wearing the season’s complementing sportswear lounged on the canopy beds and plush couches. After guests mingled amongst the furniture, the evening wear procession—an elegant mix of metallic accents, sequin, floral embroidery, and silk—circled the rooms, with the active wear looks joining the final walk. “We’re thinking about the whole combination of fashion, lifestyle, furniture, travel, entertainment,” explains Mischka. “It’s all becoming one big thing, and we’re trying to make Badgley Mischka more encompassing.”

For a duo that have always enjoyed redecorating their homes, translating their runway looks to home design was seamless, even going on to design the presidential suite at the Breakers in Palm Beach. “James and I love women’s evening clothes, but we take a more personal interest in furniture and home,” explains Badgley. That attention and thoughtfulness extended to the furniture’s production as well, with the team choosing to work with PTM Images, a sustainable factory in Mexico where everything is reclaimed and excess materials get recycled.

Influenced by French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank, Alfred Hitchcock movies, and the grand dames of cinema, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, the furniture is “vaguely vintage but also very modern,” adds Mischka. And it’s not pretentious. “Some of the wood is pine, which is very rustic but has this beautiful finish on it, and the way it mixes with the gold in some of the more precious pieces is very eclectic,” adds Badgley. A meticulously detailed sideboard with a metallic faceted surface took 30 days just to cut the pieces, while the Monterey étagère features hand-gilded metal structures with intricate detailing and glass shelves. A desk—Badgley’s favorite—“is very sensual,” he points out. “They’re conversation pieces; they make a room.”

Whether placed together or standalone, the line has staying power. “Like with our runway collections, we don’t do trendy. We do a consistent look that keeps evolving. We stand for something. We build on what we do. There’s a timelessness to the pieces,” Badgley says. “We like when women pull out a Badgley Mischka from 10 years ago and it still feels beautiful.”

Indeed, they are joining a long line of their peers who are also dabbling in hospitality, and one day may even follow in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger, who are each developing their own collection of hotels. “We’d love to do that. It would be a dream to pull it all together,” says Badgley, but right now, their home line is a good start. “Ninety-nine percent of our new house [in Centre Island, New York] is Badgley Mischka furniture. That’s how much we love it.”