Friday, July 12, 2024

From the Magazine: First Men

Partners in life and design, Mark Badgley and James Mischka made history when they accepted the Style Icon award at Dress For Success Palm Beach’s annual Style of Hope Fundraising Luncheon at the Kravis Center. In past years, only women—notables from Iris Apfel to Lilly Pulitzer—have received the award. On March 10, Badgley and Mischka became the first men, and the first duo, to earn the honor.

Lana Blackman, co-chair of the gala, cited Badgley and Mischka’s “reverence for strong, confident and empowered women” when explaining the decision. In terms of sheer cultural prestige, it’s a no-brainer: In their 35 years of experience, the designers have worked on countless red-carpet and special-occasion dresses for a diverse range of celebrities and body types, from Meghan Trainor to Robin Roberts, Elizabeth Banks to Jill Biden. For the past four years, they’ve lived full time on Palm Beach, where their namesake boutique opened in 2020—the only store outside of their Los Angeles flagship.

While their glittering eveningwear is in some ways a far cry from the businesswear championed by Dress for Success Palm Beach, some style tips are universal, as the couple shares in their conversation with Boca Raton.

On how a woman can make her business attire stand out:

Mischka: The key is she can wear something pretty basic, like a black sheath dress, a black or navy suit—or any color suit—and just accessorizing it, and paying a little attention to detail, can make a big difference. Whether it’s tying a scarf around her neck or choosing a shoe that works particularly well with that outfit, or just making sure her hair and makeup are done the way she wants them to be [are important], because she’s presenting. That’s the key, is that you’re always presenting.

Badgley: And it’s not about economics. There are amazing products out there at every price point today. You can look incredible on a very meager budget. So I don’t think that should ever be a reason why a woman can’t dress beautifully.

On how they complement each other:

Mischka: When we started, my background was in menswear, so I did more of the tailored pieces; Mark did more of the draped pieces. Over the past 35 years, we’ve just melded into one mind and two bodies.

On their easiest celebrity client:

Badgley: The easiest is Jennifer Lopez. We dressed her for four Oscars. She’s confident, she loves clothes, she knows what she looks good in. Her body is incredible in the way she can just slink into anything beautifully.

On their more difficult clients:

Badgley: It was never body type. It was women that didn’t have a sense of their own personal style and their own aesthetic, and second-guessed themselves to a point where they had to be in a tuxedo one day, and then the next day it had to be ruffles and effeminate, but the next day it needed to be stark and sophisticated, and just ping-pong balling. That’s the kind of stuff that’s tough.

On whether the pandemic permanently changed fashion:

Badgley: Women love clothes down here, and they love to dress. It’s a great climate to dress. And they entertain so much, they go out so much, that thank god, after a very dismal part of our careers, fashion came back strong, because they were so deprived of going out and wearing beautiful clothes. So it’s nice to see that that’s come back.

Mischka: But it’s also broadened the definition of what you can wear to things. I think people can wear slightly more casual outfits to events now.

Badgley: There’s a huge blur now as to what’s appropriate and what’s not. There are no rules anymore.

On their Spring 2023 collection:

Mischka: We finally got to visit some places we really wanted to go to, including Marrakesh. We got to get that inspiration, which was really fun—the colors, even the smells and textures of the city somehow found their way into the dresses. The spice market, especially.

Badgley: The fabrics are gorgeous, the colors and prints are really beautiful. The clothes are super-feminine. It’s super-southern Florida. I know our ladies down here will really love it.

This article is from the March 2023 issue of Boca magazine. For more like this, click here to subscribe to the magazine.

John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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