Mark Badgely and James Mischka were nothing but cool, calm and collected backstage at the Gallery at Spring Studios. Their latest ready-to-wear collection for the Fall/Winter 2023 New York Fashion Week had everyone buzzing around them, with dressers sewing last-minute details onto models — one model even standing with her arms outstretched as a woman tackled the bottom of her dress with an Elmer’s glue stick and a liquid spray.
Mark Badgley and James Mischka bring elegance to the table
Badgley Mischka debuted their new eveningwear collection at New York Fashion Week in a sea of velvet, feathers and sequins.
Feb 22, 2023
The two designers stood together, observing the models and calling each one to move up the line to get their photograph taken before they ascended the staircase to the sixth floor. Upstairs, guests were taking their seats on benches placed around the runway, which had a lone island that ran through the middle of the room, complete with miniature matte black table lamps and matching bar stools.
Badgley and Mischka’s sculptural nature prioritizes movement, and the show’s opening was no different, with the lights dimming and the real-life mannequins flowing past the audience with an elegance unmatched this season. Each model may have walked down the runway, but the fabrics floated, first to the beat of classical notes, and then, with a quick transition, into the sweet Italian melody of artist Il Quadro di Troisi’s “Real.”
The brand played up concepts of the Italian futurists, describing how the designers’ belief in romantic futurism manifested into moving, dynamic lines in the collection. A note left on each seat pointed out that clothing must “provide novel and constant enjoyment,” and this idea was celebrated in every ensemble, each hugging the body while remaining couture-esque in the sleekness of its cuts.
Out of the ordinary, too, were the fabrics used: all the materials were either liquid, gossamer or structured. Technical fibers upgraded classic silhouettes in georgette and satin, while velvet platform heels added a playful touch to the strict structures of each look. The palette was evidently rooted in the five elements — earth as shades of emerald, metal as obsidian and steel, fire as bloodstone, water in shades of a velvety ocean blue and so on. The kicker — which took the collection past its humble beginnings — was the sheer amount of glitter.
“It feels reminiscent of the ’70s,” said Jae Gurley, a TikTok personality and an alum of the Tisch School of the Arts. “It’s a mix of disco and old, classic glamor, like a fun party scene.”
Among an entirely sequined suit set — complete with a matching dress and a sequined belt to cinch the waist — glitter was also embedded into a tulle-sleeved dress that shimmered under the lights hanging above. The glitter remained consistent throughout the showcase of colors, beginning with green sequins and moving to a neutral, glimmering honey shade. One gold knotted dress had diamanté detailing that trailed down the back, while other flower appliques were enhanced by glittered seeds in their pistils. Flowers and bows reigned in various iterations, ranging from muted pleated bows to tops and sleeves entirely shaped into roses and lilies. The drama of the details in even the simplest of outfits was red carpet worthy, preserving an idea of exclusivity with barely visible beadwork, but remaining openly romantic in the silhouettes.
The crux of the show became apparent in its finale, in a direct address to the lifestyle that the collection exists for — a lifestyle where opulence and extravagance is mandatory. A Swan Lake-esque dress, shaped into the feather of a bird, swung down the runway and took a seat at the black table in the center. Following its wearer, each model took a slow strut down the runway and found a place at the island, stretching their long limbs out and staring seductively into the audience. The models challenged the audience to come forward and interact with the pieces as they looked down at them, haughtily, as if the onlookers were uninvited guests at a cocktail party.
The collection was everything Badgley Mischka represented: effortless elegance and the air of a kind of mystique one can only wish for.