By Gloria Nicola; Photos By Stephen Sullivan
Two things are obvious. The American-born designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka, known for their red carpet-worthy evening wear, love embellishments and are meticulous in their styling. At an exclusive 20/20 photo feature they styled and accessorized their model Virginia Slaghekke from head to toe in Badgley Mischka. Highlighted was their new eyewear collection currently being launched with Georgia-based The McGee Group. The designers carefully selected frames and sunglasses to complement the model’s skin tones and hair color. And each strand—in fact each bead—on the necklace extravaganza she wore from their jewelry collection was arranged and rearranged to perfection.
“We try to do the same things with our eyewear that we do with our clothes. We like to keep things simple with lavish accents,” Mischka notes as he selects the Chantalle, an optical frame for the model. It’s a thick, fully rimmed acetate embellished with a mix of studs and Swarovski stones.
“We love vintage. Our designs have always been inspired by old Hollywood. We have watched every imaginable Hollywood movie from the ’40s and ’50s many times,” Badgley continues. “But the great thing is this look is fresh to our customers. They didn’t grow up with it, so we can give them an updated, modernized version of old Hollywood that’s new to them,” he adds and points out another favorite new, vintage-inspired style, Bernadetta, a sunglass in a cateye shape.
“So much eyewear today looks industrial, but we believe women today are gravitating toward something more special,” the team explains. “We think every piece in our collection is classic but feminine. For example, you can take a classic aviator and embellish it with art deco-inspired temples. The result is a traditional, but feminine design. Because of all the great new technology, it’s possible to do extraordinary detailing on eyewear and still keep it incredibly lightweight.”
Badgley emphasizes that the two like classic designs, which is apparent in their own wardrobe choices for the 20/20 shoot: navy blazers and white shirts. Their personal eyewear, which is of course from their new collection, is also classic. Badgley, who says he hasn’t changed his style since he began wearing glasses in first grade, wears the Avril, a deep rectangle in acetate, and Mischka wears Jeri, a narrower rectangular acetate, which he describes as chunky, but not heavy. He especially likes the crystal in the temples because it adds a sense of lightness.
“With our clothing, we like to work with sumptuous fabrics,” Badgley says. “We translate this into our eyewear designs with combos of matte and shiny finishes. We also like to spread glitter throughout the material… subtly. We don’t want to be too costumey.”
What the designers feel is especially noteworthy about the new eyewear collection is the use of colors. “We think our customers are finally getting ready for colors in eyewear. For too long, it was just black and then black and white, but finally we are able to have fun with color,” they agree. Mischka’s favorite colors are chestnut and rose. “I like eyewear with rose-colored interiors. It produces a softened, subdued shine—much like a silk lining in clothes or a silk fabric placed over a lampshade.” Badgley adds that he also likes the color blue. “It’s great on sunglasses and for the beach. It’s such a Hamptons look.”
When selling eyewear, Mischka feels retailers need to be well-versed on their inventory. “Consumers are so busy today; they don’t have a nanosecond to waste.” But Badgley adds, “It’s essential at the same time to slow down. Every piece of eyewear is special. It’s important to make a distinction between each frame and what’s special about it.”
With the new eyewear collection, the duo plans to “keep pushing and evolving our eyewear looks, using classic designs that are wearable for everyday paired with modern materials and technologies.” One of their main goals is to add more men’s styles to their eyewear collection, “so we have more choices for ourselves,” they laugh. ■