NEW YORK — Badgley Mischka, a designer label that conjures up images of Hollywood actresses in sparkly evening gowns on the red carpet, wants guests at its Feb. 8 runway show to pan back and see the big picture.
That view includes Platinum eveningwear, sportswear, accessories and, of course, the designer collection — all of which will be shown in a medley of sorts on the runway. This new strategy makes sense, considering how unabashed Badgley Mischka's parent, the Iconix Brand Group, has been about licensing and marketing. Designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka now have 16 licenses in their portfolio, and their newest additions, belts, costume jewelry and intimate apparel, will be seen on the catwalk. Swimwear, a license that was signed with A.H. Schreiber Co. last week, will not hit the runway this time.
"We've really developed into a lifestyle company,'' Mischka said during an interview Monday at his firm's Seventh Avenue showroom. "We're not just about the evening gown any more."
To some extent, it's been a long time coming. Badgley and Mischka laughed, recalling their first runway show in 1988 at The Columns, a SoHo loft. Minutes before the start, New York City firefighters almost shut down the show because the lights were hanging off the sprinklers. "Didn't someone have to pay them off?" Badgley asked. Answering seamlessly — something both men seem to do reflexively — Mischka said, "My mom had to pay them off. She's never let me forget that."
Besides a chunk of ceiling falling on a Nordstrom buyer, Badgley and Mischka faced other setbacks. Namely, they got sidetracked en route to the show. Someone had inadvertently given them the freight entrance address and they sat outside the rear of the building for half an hour before noticing the lights a few floors above. Mischka said, "Then we saw the lights and said, ‘Look someone is doing a fashion show up there,' and ran to the front of the building."
"I think the show was over — there were only 20 looks," Badgley said.
"It's funny in retrospect. It wasn't at the time," Mischka said.This time around, the two plan about 50 looks, five or 10 more than they would typically use for their high-end show. Stylist Isabel Dupre is helping to whittle down the many choices. Groupe JS, Iconix Brand Group's strategic partner, holds the license for Badgley Mischka Couture, Platinum, sportswear and bridesmaids.
From time to time, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors have shown collections in varying price ranges on the runway, though Badgley and Mischka said they did not consider those presentations when they made their decision.
"It's been done. I wouldn't say it's been done a lot," Badgley said. But theirs will not be a high-low combo. "Our couture customer wears Platinum. It's not something that is designed for a completely different customer. I think all these clothes belong on the [same] runway."
Their customers also know how to mix things up and think nothing of pairing a coat from the sportswear collection with an evening gown. Mischka said, "We thought, ‘If she's doing it, why aren't we?'"
Next week in Bryant Park, the staging for their show will be "quite clean, quite modern — no fancy backdrop," he said.
Mitchell Hops, president and chief executive officer of Groupe JS, added, "It's about the clothes, and the shoes and the jewels and the intimate apparel."
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