Mark Badgley and James Mischka introduced their new furniture collection, Badgley Mischka Home, during April’s High Point Market. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the design duo to talk with them about the new effort, their first foray into the furnishings market after designing fashion as a team since 1988.
Badgley Mischka Home Debuts
The idea to produce a collection of furniture, the creation of which had been in the works for a year and a half, came to them because they knew the territory well, as they do the interiors for their own homes. “We enjoy buying houses, decorating them and selling them,” James said. “It was a perfect storm when we realized we had the right instrument to make it happen given Jonathan’s influence.”
He’s speaking of Jonathan Bass, the CEO of Badgley Mischka Home, who was in the thick of the action in the Interhall stand that day, smiling and chatting amiably with everyone. I asked them if designing furniture had been a stretch for them. “Absolutely not—we see it as fashion for the home,” James answered, “Fashion, travel and décor relate in our eyes. We were working on the fashions for our Fall 2017 collection simultaneously and elements like the finishes just grew naturally out of the effort.”
“We had a bit of practice, too, decorating the beautiful suites at the Breakers in Palm Beach,” Mark added. “The process of designing a space or a product for the home is similar to how we design clothing. The inspiration flows, then the form and the materials become clear. It’s how it works every time we debut new fashion designs.”
“We’re known for embellishments like embroideries in fashion,” James noted. “Quite often our fabrics look like they are stamped so we drew from this point of view for the gilded furniture, which is manufactured in an amazing plant in Mexico.”
“The hand-quality of the finish is incredible,” Mark said, pointing to the gleaming coffee table nearby. Their beach house was top of mind when they were choosing materials. “We like glamour, but we don’t want things to feel too precious that you can’t live on them—we have four dogs.”
They designed the collection to be cohesive while also seeing each product as a statement piece.” The geometric patterns that proliferate in the collection were inspired by mid-century modern embroideries. “We’re not big on color in interiors; we like a soothing, natural palette, which is what you see here,” James said, motioning to the collection with its subtle neutral tones.
Given my predilection for placing literary figures in room settings, I asked them who they would see making themselves at home in the space. Their answer, due to the fashionable women he was always seen with, was Truman Capote.
He certainly knew about style: his Breakfast at Tiffany’s remaining an icon of elegance to this day thanks to its star Audrey Hepburn. He also threw one of the most notorious masked balls in New York City’s history on a drizzly November night in 1966 when 540 of his nearest and dearest pals showed up! Describing Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Capote wrote, “She was a triumph over ugliness …” He described one of her character traits as being able to magically transform herself by exaggerating her defects to the point she had made them ornamental: “Heels that emphasized her height, so steep her ankles trembled; a flat tight bodice that indicated she could go to a beach in bath trunks; hair that was pulled straight back, accentuating the spareness, the starvation of her fashion-model face.”
The casting director certainly nailed the physique and the stylist got the hair right but Capote’s description doesn’t quite reflect the glamour the movie captured in Hepburn. That’s how the creative process works, I suppose; one artist (director) takes another artist’s work (the writer’s) and creates a timeless pastiche that becomes iconic. And so it goes with the talented tailors and seamstresses who make haute couture come to life, and with the factories producing the home furnishings designers like Badgley Mischka dream into being.
The Diary of an Improvateur and Badgley Mischka Fashion to Home © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon is an author, poet and strategist whose books include Anywhere But Here, Stranded on the Road to Promise and Four Florida Moderns.by