Over 25 years in the business, a designer will accrue a lot of advice, both asked for and unsolicited. Decades ago, Mark Badgley and James Mischka were told, “Do what you want to do, and don’t listen to anyone else”—wise words they have taken to heart. Being dress designers can be tough. Everyone wants you to branch out into “everyday” clothing, even as you’re trying to create one-of-a-kind eveningwear that will most likely get photographed. But for 25 years, Badgley Mischka has served a clientele as sparkling as their gowns. So if these designers aren’t showing neoprene gingham baseball jackets, who cares? It’s just not their jam.
For their 25th-anniversary collection, Badgley and Mischka approached it just as they would their 16th or 21st, which is through a modern yet subtly retro lens. After watching ’60s French science fiction films, they struck upon the idea of effervescence and weightlessness. Which morphed into “Marie Antoinette on the moon,” seen in the loose, bustle-worthy ruffles detailing a jacquard jacket, and in embroidered gowns in featherlight organza and gazar. The references, thankfully, were subtly used, so the transparent and Plexiglas ideas picked up from the sci-fi flicks showed up here as shattered chandelier crystals glued to Lucite cuffs and brooches. And perhaps because no woman wants to be caught wearing the same dress as another, each gown had a different shape, color, or embellishment from the next. The designers also didn’t ignore what goes on before a red carpet or a black-tie event—but their tweed suits, shot through with metallic thread, were every bit as glamorous as their evening counterparts, as was a gathered ice blue silk dress cinched with a wide belt.
But before daytime came Badgley Mischka’s night to celebrate 25 years of, as Mischka put it, “sticking to our mantra and being the turtle who sometimes wins the race.” Theirs is a very specific customer, and today, as hundreds of silver balloons fell from the ceiling and Naomi Campbell brought out a birthday cake, their fans all gave Badgley and Mischka a very loud cheer.