NEW YORK — In what some consider a confusing branding message, ready-to-wear firm Badgley Mischka opened a 2,500-square-foot bridal salon on the lower floor of the Fifth Avenue Escada store last Wednesday.

Badgley Mischka is a unit of Escada USA. Designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka said the collaboration works, since both companies place a high emphasis on customer service and quality merchandise. They acknowledged the concept is often practiced by fashion firms in Europe and cited the John Lobb boutique inside the Hermès store here as a successful example of a co-branded retail concept.

This story first appeared in the February 4, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Business philosophy aside, the Escada store visually lends itself to bridal sales, even though the bridal boutique was not part of the 17,000-square-foot store’s plan when it opened in October 2001. It features luxurious materials and high ceilings, with intimate sitting areas often seen in bridal salons. Perhaps more importantly, the store is almost entirely white.

The bridal salon sits next to the Escada couture and eveningwear areas and is separated by existing columns and added signage. It houses the entire bridal collection, comprising roughly 40 gowns, and the bridal accessories line, with space accommodating up to two brides at a time — each with a large entourage. The salon will be managed by an existing Escada salesman. According to the designers, it is expected to double the amount of bridal business at the Manhattan unit, which also sells at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue.

A similar Badgley Mischka bridal salon was added to the San Francisco Escada store in Union Square last month. The Atelier collection, its mother-of-the-bride line, is part of the bridal division and has been available in the Dallas and Chicago Escada boutiques since November.

“It’s a win-win situation because they don’t have a store in Manhattan and this is a Fifth Avenue location,” said Deborah Moses, editor-in-chief of Elegant Bride magazine, which cohosted last week’s launch party. “But I did think it was a little bit odd at first.”

Badgley Mischka opened a two-story, 3,600-square-foot store on North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in 2000, its first freestanding store. It houses all Badgley Mischka’s divisions and was formerly an Escada Sport store.

Meanwhile, Dana Lambros has joined the company as director of public relations. For seven years, Lambros worked in the New York public relations office of Celine. She will be responsible for all press communication and celebrity dressing, as well as furthering the company’s image. Lambros reports to the designers and replaces Karen Handley, who relocated to Los Angeles, but will continue to serve as a consultant.

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