The takeaway from Mark Badgley and James Mischka’s fall runway was an injection of ease into their high-glam universe. The designers travel the world to engage with clients, who tell them they need special pieces that can take them from day to dinner without the fussiness of an overwrought gown. They want to feel empowered, they want to feel beautiful; most importantly, they want to feel at ease.
The insouciance of a tailored wool plaid coat bathed in paillettes set the tone wonderfully. It was special enough to attract the interest of the brand’s clientele and styled over sleek separates, it had an ease and a wearability. Colors evolved from rich crimson and moody tones to an explosion of white; the designers cited Caravaggio’s paintings as inspiration for “creating” light by way of sequins and jewel-encrusted necklines. A leopard tweed inflected with baby paillettes was challenged to be evening-appropriate when cut into loose trousers. Streamlined silhouettes with minimal embellishments, like the aforementioned gowns with beaded necklines or a sleek jumpsuit with delicate fabric at the bust, leaned toward the youthful side of chic.
Make no mistake, there were exquisite gowns galore — from a leopard print swathed with crystals along the bodice to the sculptural folds of a ballgown skirt to frocks with floral appliqués that provided great surface interest. Those are the brand’s bread and butter; yet as lovely as they were, they took a backseat to pieces with more restraint. Whether day-to-evening or week-to-weekend, this was a collection rife with richness, texture and charm.