Guests arriving at the Badgley Mischka show at Spring Studios found a fanciful tableau, the runway installed with potted white trees that were bedecked with huge colorful paper flowers. On either side, café tables draped in pastel cloths were set with glasses of Champagne and an open bottle for the second round.
The décor was Mark Badgley and James Mischka’s allusion to “Alice in Wonderland,” the inspiration for the show that marked the 30th anniversary of their brand. Like Alice’s, theirs has been an intense journey, with endless surprises and some curious situations to negotiate along the way.
Yet their Wonderland, as depicted for spring, had nary a dark turn nor creepy inhabitant. Rather, it was all light-filled and fanciful. “[Dark] is not what they come to us for,” Badgley told WWD in the lead-up to the show. The designers worked their theme deftly, sans grinning-cat graphics and playing-card prints, with a lineup in an inviting pastel palette with flowers galore. It also featured a savvy statement, its delivery more direct than discreet, of the range of their business. Guests each received a sample of the Badgley Mischka fragrance, launching at retail next month. The show featured several sportswear looks, such as smartly tailored pantsuits and a plaid trench; lovely day dresses including a candy-striped charmer with smocked sleeves, and a reference to swim, though the blush-pink maillot with organza flowers won’t move directly from runway to water. There was also a sneak peek of the brand’s collection for little girls, which focused on flower-girl froth.
All of the above, vibrant brand extensions. But the heart of the Badgley ethos comes at night. Unabashed romance bloomed in fluid, flowery ruffles, while sleek columns radiated sophistication, one in white with vibrant embroidery at the neckline and waist, another, in pale blue with feathered bodice. A spectacular silver micro-sequined gown with pink ribbon detail worked that rare combo of grace and glitz. That outlier aside, most gowns featured controlled embellishment, the most beautiful as unfettered as they were alluring. And while the designers didn’t ignore ballgowns, they didn’t linger long in that genre. These days, their customer veers away from over-the-top. They know. Through three decades of intense contact with her, Badgley and Mischka have sought to challenge her slightly while ultimately responding to her desires. It’s a relationship (not a formula) based on proactive understanding and respect, and it works. The show ended with a confetti shower and the designers’ bow, after which Badgley and Mischka stayed on set, greeting enthusiastic well-wishers. Decade Four is off to a strong start.