Badgley Mischka to Skip Spring Fashion Season Amid Search for Backer

With no viable backers stepping forward to rescue their firm, designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka said they will not produce a spring line.

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Since 2001, Escada has cut about 20 percent of its global staff and has continued with massive cost-cutting this year, while striving to boost sales with new licenses and restyled collections. Its efforts resulted in some positive news, in that its most recent quarterly report showed an after-tax profit of about $123,000, compared with a $5 million loss the previous year.

Badgley Mischka became a part of the Escada picture during a much different time for the company. During the height of the appeal to affluent women of brightly colored suits with angular shoulders, Badgley Mischka represented a sophisticated counterpoint for evening to Escada’s look for day.

Badgley and Mischka, natives of Illinois and Wisconsin, respectively, met as students at Parsons School of Design in New York and started their joint label in 1988 after Badgley had worked for Jackie Rogers and Donna Karan, and Mischka for WilliWear. They initially financed their own collection with money from their families, but sold a majority interest to Escada USA in 1992.

Although their collections often harken back to a more sophisticated era of eveningwear, the gentlemanly designers have maintained a modern celebrity following that has ranged from memorable red-carpet plugs by Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone and Teri Hatcher in their early days to more recent appearances on “Sex and the City,” which featured the marriage of one character in a Badgley Mischka gown. They also scored Beyoncé as a front-row guest at their February show, even if she generated more press by being tardy and holding up the start.

Although the 16-year-old label has not reached the point that it has shown a profit, its potential in licensing has only recently been tapped, with a new fur collection with BC International and possible deals for lingerie, footwear and eyewear. Last month the duo said they were in talks with a fragrance company about launching their first women’s scent.

The company opened its first store on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles in 2000, and more recently has continued to expand with a separates group launched for Saks Fifth Avenue and special-order businesses.
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