Deal Diva Interview: Badgley Mischka. No, really.
Each week, I get an email from HSN outlining what's going to be sold on air this week and which stars, designers and pitchmen and women will be passing through the studios to sell their wares. This week at the bottom of the email, I saw that Badgley Mischka, mega-famous superstar designers of incredible couture for Oprah and Sex and the City stars alike, were heading to the St. Pete studios. I almost choked on my Lean Cuisine. I wrote back asking about a possible interview, not fully expecting it to work out. In my mind, I am like Oliver quivering with the soup bowl and always assume no one cool will ever want to talk to me. But the fashion and PR gods were smiling because a few days later, I was chatting on the phone with not just one, but both Mark Badgley and James Mischka. They were a delight, and I was all, "Hurrrrrrrppbth." I tried to hold it together, though when I listened back to the recording, I heard a preteen going through a voice change. This also happened when I interviewed New Kids on the Block a few years back. It's not pretty, guys.
Anyway, here's the full story, in which we chat about their HSN line, American Glamour, the business of fashion, the relationship the average woman has with runway fashion, and how I might have kind of bought their trench coat while attempting to do research. But there's more! The glory of the blog is that we can bring you some excerpts that didn't get into print. Here now, bonus chatter with Badgley Mischka.
On keeping glamour in all they do:
Badgley: "We found out very quickly that when we did things that didn’t have a thread of glamour running through them, that weren’t special, it didn’t resonate with the HSN customer. She knows what she wants from our brand. Anytime we offer her something special that’s got a touch of embellishment or an amazing detail or something that’s very feminine or romantic, she reacts to it. Even when we do a T-shirt for HSN, it’s still very glamorous. It has a beautiful cut. It has a beautiful ornamentation. There’s not one piece we do for American Glamour that’s not glamorous."
On shopping with a budget and limited resources:
Badgley: "When you live in New York, there are a lot of resources, interesting thrift stores to all kinds of things. When we were young and growing up, that was kind of the cool thing. We understand, too, there are a lot of women that we talk to that call in and they live I’m sure in these beautiful places but they’re just in the middle of nowhere. They have nowhere to go. They have to get in the car and drive 80 miles to a shop that interests them. The situation is really unique and special to them."
Advice for upstart designers:
Mischka: "One thing that Mark and I were able to do is work for other designers first before we had our own company, and we just tried to get our fingers in every part of those companies. Talk to the people in the production department. Talk to the people in the PR department. There are so many different facets of the fashion industry. Even if they were interning somewhere and couldn’t get an internship in design but could get an internship in the PR department or in the production department or even in sales, it’ll give you so much more knowledge."
Badgley: "I think, too, work in a boutique. There’s nothing better than a person that works for us here that’s worked in a boutique and knows how to work with a customer, body type, what necklines flatter and what fits. It sounds simple, but it’s incredibly useful information if you want to design garments. It really is. I think, too, when you want to design, I think you have to stay very true to yourself and don’t try to be everything to everybody."
Mischka: "You won’t be."
Badgley: "You’ve got to stick to your guns. When James and I started doing glamour and evening wear, the whole world was doing grunge. That just wasn’t our look."
Mischka: "Connect with customers. You can’t just sit there in your design studio and design things you think are fabulous without knowing who’s going to wear them."
On how a busy woman can be a little glamorous every day:
Badgley: "Look, she’s got to get dressed every morning. It’s just as easy to walk into your closet and put on a dull, dreary sweater as it is one that’s got a little bit of style to it, that’s got a new neckline and a pretty cut and a beautiful embellishment. It just takes a little bit of effort, you know what I mean? When they do make that effort, they feel it. I think a woman should stay in her comfort zone. I think she won’t feel glamorous if she tries something that’s too costumey and it backfires. Try something in your comfort zone that’s glamorous. Life has become so industrial and so dressed down, dressed down, dressed down, and we find that these women, if they indulge themselves and do something that’s a little special, they’ll feel good about themselves all day long."
Catch Badgley Mischka on HSN today at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Deal Diva Stephanie
Photos: Mark and James, plus some items from their American Glamour line for HSN, courtesy of HSN.