September 14, 2009
Mark Badgley and James Mischka channeled the tropical glamour of mid-fifties Cuba for Spring. The pair sourced their visuals by digging through old photos of friends' parents snapped during Havana's heyday. (The friends, incidentally, were in Palm Beach—the perfect locale to wear these clothes today.) Badgley and Mischka mostly worked a formula of clean, breezy fabrics with a well-measured dose of embellishment. By day, that would mean a lovely bell-sleeve white jersey dress, totally plain but for the vibrant coral bib necklace; and for evening, a fluttery black silk halter gown, casually belted and worn with a chunky crystal cuff. Jewelry was important here, seen in big, sparkly costume tangles of chains and found objects. It's far from a fresh idea, but it brought a welcome off-kilter twist to the designers' straightforward elegance. As their notes explained, this old-school island set also wore Parisian couture, and there was certainly a touch of Rue Cambon in all the black and white, and evidence of atelier hours in beadwork and the hundreds of tiny white petals embroidered on a ball skirt. The first two terrific daywear looks in salt-and-pepper silk tweed were also a nod to the same. The graphic palette far outshone the shots of color in lipstick red and highlighter pink: The latter is a hue that's become a clichéd way to add runway excitement, but that's a minor quibble for a mostly solid collection.