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Meet: Mark Badgley and James Mischka

Our style editor scores a Q&A with two of the biggest names in fashion.

James Mischka, style editor Caitlin MCulloch, Account Executive Chloe Pak, and Mark Badgley.

Many times, you buy clothes and are unaware of the brands you’re purchasing. Other times, there’s that one item from that one design team that you just have to have. For many people, those items come from Badgley Mischka.

Since 1988, Mark Badgley and James Mischka have been producing everything from high-quality jewelry and shoes to evening gowns and bridal. Big-time names such as Madonna, Oprah, Taylor Swift, Julia Roberts, and the shoe expert herself--Sarah Jessica Parker--have donned the brand’s glamorous apparel.

Sometimes, I go to store openings, have a great time, and go about my day. Other times, I go the La Soie Bridal boutique opening in Walnut Creek, have a great time, and get to interview Badgley and Mischka. Here’s what we talked about.

Caitlin McCulloch: How did you launch this empire?

Mark Badgley: It wasn’t really an empire in the beginning! We were in school together in Parsons School of Design, but we didn’t really get to know each other until our senior year there. I went on to work with a couple of designers; James did, too. I was in women’s wear, he was in men’s. We were working ’round the clock, thinking we couldn’t possibly work any harder, but we both wanted to do our own thing. So instead of competing with each other, we decided to combine forces. So we started Badgley Mischka.

CM: And you’ve been in business more than a quarter-century now. That’s quite a milestone--congratulations! After seeing so many different things over the years, what’s your favorite trend of the moment?

James Mischka: People are finally getting away from the idea of casual Fridays and are starting to dress up a little more. Getting more polished during the day perfectly suits the Badgley Mischka aesthetic. We really like seeing that happening, and hopefully we’ll help that out a little bit.

B: I love that more people are getting into the dress, it’s not so separates-oriented. I love that the elegant, pointy-toe shoe is coming back, and moving a little bit away from the big platform. Which I love, but I love the elegance of the pointy-toe.

CM: I’m a girly-girl, so I’ll agree with you there! Out of everything that you guys do, what’s your baby?

M: I would say our two favorite babies out of what we do are evening gowns and bridal.

B: The way we approach wedding is a lot like a white evening gown or a white red carpet gown-like a glamorous gown. That’s sort of our core business and what we like to do the most.

CM: I don’t know if this question is allowed, but do you guys have a favorite person you have styled? Am I going to get you guys in trouble?

B: No! (laughs)

M: If you ask us who our least favorite is, then we’ll get in trouble!

B: We did Jennifer Lopez for four Oscars, and we loved working with her. She just knows what she likes, she loves glamour, and she doesn’t second-guess herself. And then, you know, another type of woman we love is Helen Miren, who we’ve dressed for a million awards shows.

CM: She’s classic and will never go out of style, in my opinion.

M: And she’s still sexy as hell.

B: They just both know what they like and are secure with themselves, which is nice.

CM: How do you suggest that women break out of their normal fashion routine?

M: I think it’s baby steps—I wouldn’t go both feet first into anything. If you usually don’t wear any makeup, try a little bit of eyeliner; if you usually wear all black, spring is a perfect time to start branching out into a little bit of color. Be crazy, you know. Try navy instead. See how that works for you and if it feels comfortable, go a little further. If you don’t feel comfortable, pull back a little bit.

CM: OK, last question: Do you guys have any goals on your minds right now?

B: We’re starting to get into retail in a more important way. We’ve had our store in Beverly Hills, but we opened a store in New York this past year, and we’re now in the process of opening a store in Houston, Texas, as well as some stores in the Middle East. So that’s what’s been keeping us really busy. It’s fun when you can control your own destiny in that way.

For more, visit badgleymischka.com or La Soie Bridal, which carries Badgley Mischka dresses, at lasoiebridal.com.