Who could have imagined that Bette Davis’ portrayal of veteran actress Margo Channing in the 1950 American film All About Eve would inspire the Badgley Mischka Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear Collection more than half a century later? Well, truth be told anyone who has ever had the pleasure of attending a Badgley Mischka Runway Presentation understands, appreciates, and celebrates the fact that this dynamic design duo inherently live and breathe the most enchanting of fashion fairy tales. And this season certainly did not disappoint. Staging the renaissance of a bygone era, Mark Badgley and James Mischka channeled Old Hollywood, with 1940’s silhouettes and art deco beading, unveiling 44 new unapologetically glamorous looks for their fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection.
Messrs. Badgley and Mischka also cited the 1939 films Dark Victory and The Women as influences for their new collection. Interestingly enough, all three films feature storylines that revolve around successful, ambitious, willful, stubborn, even contentious characters. It only seems fitting since women today are experiencing somewhat of a rebirth and revolution; a job market once dominated by manufacturing and construction fields have seen these dwindling industry opportunities significantly decrease in the past eighteen months, leaving females to dominate as they become entrepreneurs and sole breadwinners. This economic decline has created a new sociological shift with women increasingly outearning their spouses, surpassing them both financially and academically—even Beyoncé wrote an infectious anthem proudly boasting what many of us have known all along, that the fairer sex does indeed “Run the World”!
The beauty direction here was also inspired by the 1940’s. Hair stylist Peter Grey softened the shaft, creating little fluffy pieces throughout. The left side was deeply parted, while the right was twisted and turned under before pinning in an elegantly off-center chignon; the look was finished with a diamante headpiece strip, borrowing from the collection’s intricately embroidered pieces. Renowned make-up artist and Estée Lauder Creative Director Tom Pécheux said of the Badgley Mischka Fall 2011 face, “The look today is pretty dramatic, using classic eye crease, a lot of lashes, and the perfect eyebrow…” Recognized for his a sultry, sexy aesthetic, he covered the lid in silver metallic shadow, adding navy to the crease for contrast, and lining the inner rims with black pencil for a naughty, come-hither quality. Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippman took this inspiration one step further. “We’re doing a very Old Hollywood glam concept, but giving it an edgier spin.” The longer, almond shaped nail was pointed at the tip a là Mad Men, layering colors from her namesake brand “Believe,” which has a gold shimmer and “Ruby Red Slippers,” which is a sheer black with red glitter for a megawatt-shine effect.
Spring’s tendency to overlap the couture, ready-to-wear, and Mark + James lines continued here, seamlessly blending sportswear, outerwear, and custom pieces. It’s a direction that many designers are taking, just as today’s savviest fashionistas pair high-end investment pieces with less expensive staples and coveted vintage treasures for a look that is individually avant-garde. While this season’s palette remained consistent with the cavalcade of seriously dark neutrals and monochromatic pairings, there were a few jewel tone accents as well. There were also some hints of haberdashery here in the form of tuxedo pants, tweed skirts, and bomber jackets, but feminine silhouettes and design details outshined any masculine references, giving way to molded shoulders, high waistlines, and nipped torsos for a sensually elegant silhouette. My favorite looks from the Badgley Mischka Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear Collection included: the magenta crepe de chine gown; the teal georgette gown; the photo sequin and tulle tunic with black stretch tuxedo twill pant; the smoke ripple jersey and knitted lamb top with wool tweed skirt; the quartz crushed velvet and chiffon gown; and the gold lame and chiffon gown.
Female empowerment is an enduringly hypnotic mantra. It harkens back to the rights and freedoms our mothers and grandmothers fought for; it’s an equality that my generation and the ones that follow don’t consciously take for granted, it’s merely the only life we’ve ever known. Fashion is a manifestation of who we are, where we are, and where we want to go. Often, it conveys an intrinsic value proposition, both realized and aspirational; because your clothes make a statement, they speak in volumes, before you’ve uttered a single word. The message here was a languid, fluid femininity, but not mired in some “damsel in distress who needs rescuing” manner, the Badgley Mischka customer is confident, poised, and if nothing else, extremely capable. But don’t be fooled by the flowing chiffon, crushed velvet, sublime georgette, and metallic tweeds. Beneath that blinding shimmer of sequins and lame, is a determined woman who can and will do anything and everything she sets her mind to! Perhaps that’s exactly what Bette Davis was hinting at when she warningly snarled, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!”
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