By  on January 7, 2011

BEVERLY HILLS — Badgley Mischka has a new well-appointed retail home here after a five-year absence from the luxury enclave.

At a cost of several million dollars, the brand gutted the historic Writers & Artists Building — which was once occupied by the offices of Will Rogers, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, and was made famous for being the site where Julia Roberts was refused sales service in “Pretty Woman” — to create a 2,800-square-foot flagship retaining its Spanish Colonial character in the manner of a classic Beverly Hills mansion. The flagship, on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard, is blocks away from Badgley Mischka’s first store, opened in 2000, at Two Rodeo Drive when the brand was part of Escada and reflects the company’s expansion under the ownership of Iconix Brand Group Inc.

“When James and I started our business, a designer customer would only wear a certain price point or a certain this or that, and all those rules are tired and broke now,” said Mark Badgley. “They buy what they want to buy. They buy what they like. We can provide more of a lifestyle now in our shops, which is why we thought we were ready for the big lifestyle store in Beverly Hills.”

The two-story store’s first floor contains three apparel price point levels: Badgley Mischka Couture starting at $5,000, Collection from $900 to $2,500, and Mark+James from $350 to $800. It also showcases jewelry from $200 to $1,600, handbags from $600 to $4,000, watches from $1,600 to $4,000, and sunglasses from $250 to $700. The second floor is a bridal and made-to-measure salon.

“When the client walks in here, she has a choice,” said Jacqueline Sassoon, a retail veteran and longtime Maxfield manager who has worked on 46 store openings and holds the license for Badgley Mischka retail in the Los Angeles area. “We have a lot of tourists here. They want to buy something on Rodeo Drive. They can walk in here and buy something under $1,000.”

The store design is driven by Badgley and Mischka’s philosophy that clothes shouldn’t be hidden by ornamentation. The subtle, almost masculine color palette of gray, white and sandy tones is in contrast to the merchandise, which is feminine and colorful. Wrought iron is used frequently — it rims a prominent staircase and is lined with crystals in a chandelier that drops from the second floor ceiling to light the first floor — and dark wood planks reclaimed from Tennessee barns cover the floors.

“We saw a lot of spaces, but they were just stores. They were just boxes up and down Rodeo. They didn’t have any soul, they weren’t glamorous, and as soon we found this was coming up on the market, we jumped on it,” said Mischka. “It has sort of a glamorous, residential feel. It is very old world, but our quest was to keep it modern at the same time.”

The store will be Badgley Mischka’s domestic face to the world — Sassoon forecast that 50 percent of the customers would be international — as it spreads its wings abroad into China. It will also be the center of the brand’s outreach to Hollywood and the stage for unique merchandise. A couture daywear collection will launch in the store in about two months, priced from roughly $800 to $2,000.

Sassoon said that, unlike some Rodeo Drive stores that are primarily marketing showcases, the flagship is expected to be a strong performer. She pointed to the brand’s growth in Los Angeles, where it has had a store at Sunset Plaza in West Hollywood since 2008, of 23 percent last year and 15 percent the year before as evidence Badgley Mischka has a healthy customer base in the area. Industry sources estimate the Beverly Hills store could generate as much as $1,500 per square foot in annual sales.

“Beverly Hills has been one of our strongest markets outside of New York City,” said Badgley. “We have a great core customer because of the red carpet, but also being on Rodeo because of so much tourism and people shopping Rodeo from all the great hotels there, you get a tremendous amount of diversity. It is a really amazing location to say the least.”

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