The requisites behind a killer red carpet moment begin with a confident starlet, ideal weather, a Hollywood-inspired 'do, and a well-chosen pair of flattering shoes. But while careful attention to each factor can easily help a beauty land a coveted spot on the best-dressed list, it’s the dress that ultimately does all the talking. That’s the exact secret Mark Badgley and James Mischka have known since 1998, when the design duo created Badgley Mischka, one of the recognized brands on any red carpet today.
To celebrate their success, the two have pieced together Badgley Mischka: American Glamour ($65; rizzoliusa.com), a coffee table-ready tome filled to the brim with imagery (below) that depicts some of the most iconic ball gowns and cocktail dresses ever created by the talents. “When we hit our 25th anniversary [last year], we felt that it was time to put together a retrospective of what we’ve done in the past—we’ve always been about celebrating glamour and women and we thought it was time to encapsulate what we’ve always been,” Mischka tells InStyle. “We’ve moved on to do more than just red carpet gowns, but it’s still what we’re known for. It’s what little girls dream of when they think of Badgley Mischka, is the red carpet.”
Mischka explains how the team originally began with a collection of 12 “little black dresses” and one red one, and eventually celebrities and industry notables began asking to don custom creations and borrow their pieces. “It’s what we try to do,” he says of dressing stars for glitzy events. “It really just confirms our belief that we can make people look great, not that they don’t look great already without us, but it just feels wonderful that they can look fabulous in our clothes. It validates what we do as designers, as professionals.”
The designer, who adds that naming the book was a no brainer (“we’re American and we’re all about glamour,” he says), also believes all of the brand’s favorite muses are similar in spirit. “I think the one thing they all share in common is that they have to embrace looking glamorous,” he says, adding, “They all have grown to trust us and know that we will make them look amazing. That’s really our goal, is to make everybody look fantastic, whether it’s red carpet or whether it’s my mom at an inaugural ball.”
Together, Badgley and Mischka have dressed the likes of Madonna, Jennifer Garner, Julia Roberts, and Taylor Swift, but certain camera-ready darlings are certainly memorable. “[Sharon Stone] was always a huge inspiration to us, from the first time we ever saw her in any movie, which was in Total Recall if I remember properly, and she’s the epitome of Hollywood glamour. She’s a huge star,” Mischka says. “One of my other favorites is Halle Berry in the lavender gown for the 2001 Oscars. That resonated with us significantly.”
There’s one megawatt singer and actress, however, who’s unforgettable. “We dressed Jennifer Lopez for four Oscars,” he says. “I think it was the second one, we dressed her in the black ball gown [pictured above, at top] that was kind of a shocker around the world. It was a huge event, a huge deal for her to be wearing that dress because it looked so amazing.”
Badgley Mischka: American Glamour is available at rizzoliusa.com.