Riding out the pandemic in Palm Beach, Mark Badgley and James Mischka have had plenty of time to consider how lifestyles and dress codes are changing.
To address the legions of customers still spending hours upon hours in their homes, the duo has launched the Luxe Lounge collection. Dressier than the majority of casual wear, the new line is expected to be a permanent part of the designers’ offerings. Launched for spring, the collection is geared for the Badgley Mischka customer, “who won’t give up on fashion or glamour,” Badgley said. From the designers’ standpoint, things have gotten too dressed down, during the pandemic. Customers want comfortable clothes, “but they don’t want to look like they’re going to yoga or Pilates,” Mischka said.
“Obviously, with what’s going on with the pandemic, she’s doing a lot of entertaining at home and proceeded to find a different way to dress. There’s not the call for red carpet, charity events or any people congregating.”
Luxe Lounge is meant to have a coziness element, while still having a thread of elegance throughout, Badgley said. Every silhouette is meant to have a sense of ease, as evidenced by the caftans, joggers and kimonos in varying proportions. “Everything is very fluid. Anything can peel off the shoulder. It’s easy to entertain in. You can run around your house,” he said.
The hoodie-free collection offers a more put-together look than many of its rivals’ casual offerings. Targeted at international specialty stores, the new assortment has been picked up by Neiman Marcus and other retailers. It is also being sold in the designers’ new Palm Beach store and in its Los Angeles stores.
To what extent the extended dressed-down trends ushered in by the pandemic will remain once the crisis is over is a matter of debate. But the designers expect the Luxe Lounge collection to be an increasingly important part of their business. “The needs for how a woman dresses have been changing for a long time. Life is not going to go back to totally normal after this,” Mischka said.
Over the next couple of years Luxe Lounge could equal the sales generated by Badgley Mischka’s dresses, cocktails and evening gowns, Badgley said.
The Badgley Mischka DNA can be seen in the colorful and printed fabrics, many of which are used for the signature collection’s gowns and suits. Blouses and a range of different pants, including cropped styles and pajama pants, are available. Vibrant items are counterbalanced with monochromatic head-to-toe options that are meant to offer a more refined ensemble. Badgley said, “The DNA of how a woman is dressing is changing. She still loves a very elegant put-together look, but in a relaxed fashion.”
”Auntie Mame,” the 1958 film with Rosalind Russell, was a source of inspiration. “Whether people are having people come to their house or they’re having a virtual cocktail holiday party,” the new line is a way to dress for those events, Mischka said.
”We still think that you can dress this way and hop across the street and have a martini at your neighbor’s pool, or that kind of thing,” Badgley said.
A full ensemble retails for under $1,000, he added. “They will take her to a lot of different places. And they’re classic. They are things that will be in the front of her closet for a long time,” Badgley said.
With production being done in New York, Asia and to a much lesser degree in Europe, Badgley Mischka had to allow for extra time due to the Chinese New Year and the pace of things during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fall Luxe Lounge collection is already wrapped up, and features separates in tweeds, velvets and other men’s wear fabrics.