By  on August 21, 2007

NEW YORK — Mark Badgley and James Mischka, who built their business with red-carpet eveningwear, are lightening things up with a daytime dress label.

Badgley Mischka Platinum Dresses will hit stores in January, but guests at the designers' Sept. 6 runway show will get a glimpse of what's to come — stylish, colorful dresses. During a preview Friday, the pair, each dressed in dark jeans and white button-down shirts, seemed collected about preparations for the show despite being knee-deep in their latest initiative.

Mentioning that their summer fun was over, both men agreed the daytime dress launch could no longer wait. "People have been asking for it for a while, but we wanted to break it out as a separate division," Mischka said.

Previously, daytime dresses were offered in Badgley Mischka's signature collection and sold "really well," he said. The only drawback was that most stores chose to merchandise the dresses in eveningwear departments.

Now Platinum, which is considerably more affordable than the designer's top-shelf label, will be sold in dress departments in better department stores and specialty stores. Far from testing the business, the company plans to ship 20 to 25 styles 10 months out of the year. With retail prices starting at $325 and topping off at $450, the aim is to reach a wide range of shoppers, including those who may or may not be able to buy the signature collection.

Like Badgley Mischka Platinum Eveningwear and Badgley Mischka Platinum Sportswear, the daytime dresses by the same name are produced by Groupe JS International. Executive vice president Fran Ornstein declined to pinpoint the number of accounts that are expected to carry the daytime dresses, but noted that eveningwear launched in 325 stores, and that many more units sell dresses. A polyester blend dove gray dress with a pleated neckline, a sleeveless, belted black dress with white piping, a short-sleeve printed crinkle chiffon dress and a long aubergine patio dress are expected to be top sellers, she said.

Badgley Mischka, an Iconix Brand Group-backed company, has been on a roll. Teri Hatcher appears in the company's fall ad campaign, the label's Fleurs de Nuit bows this fall, swimwear launched last month and costume jewelry is a recent addition. And, of course, there is a new daytime bag collection. That's all for now, Mischka said, adding, "We've been getting a lot of [positive] feedback from stores, which is good. Imagine if it was the other way?"

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