Tag Archives: Isaac Mizrahi

What I Didn’t Buy – Vintage-looking Handbag

I spotted this handbag in an antique mall recently, and I wasn’t fooled for a second.  From the thick clunky double chain to the plasticy faux-leather everything just screamed “NEW!”  But there was something about the details that made me take a second look.  Someone was clearly inspired by the work of Bonnie Cashin for Coach, circa 1964.

Well now, that makes perfect sense.  Isaac Mizrahi has long named Bonnie Cashin as one of his own design heroes, along with Claire McCardell and Geoffrey Beene.

One thing I like and admire about Mizrahi is that he does have a great sense of where fashion has been.  He knows his fashion history and does not mind pulling from it.  Early in his career, back in the 1980s, he was criticized for pulling a bit too much; that many designs were more Beene than Mizrahi.  Using the Target handbag as an example though, you can immediately see the influence, but not for a moment would anyone who knows her work be deceived into thinking she was the designer.

There is a big difference between inspiration and copying.   Copying is easy. You look at a design and reproduce it.  But inspiration involves taking the best feature of a previous design, and infusing your own sense of aesthetic  and creating something new.

I’ve been thinking about copying because I’m considering a huge sewing challenge – that of making a copy of a Chanel jacket.  Encouragement is greatly appreciated!

 

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Currently Viewing: Unzipped

The announcement that Isaac Mizrahi was to be one of the judges on Project Runway All Stars put me in a bit of a bad mood.  All I could think about was that terrible The Fashion Show, Bravo’s lame effort to unseat Project Runway as the Queen of fashion reality.  In the terribly over-scripted The Fashion Show, Mizrahi played the role of  Mean Girl along with catty BFF Kelly Rowlands.  It was not pretty.

I needed a reminder that Miarahi could be witty, charming, and yes, even spontaneous.  I knew exactly where to look – 1995’s  Unzipped, a look at Mizrahi as he prepared for and launched his fall 1994 collection.  It’s an interesting, if not entirely candid look inside the process of how a collection comes together.  From the inspirations (Nanook of the North plays Quiji Board with Mary Tyler Moore) to the reviews after the show, we see it all.

There’s a bizarre visit with Eartha Kitt, and Naomi Campbell before all her legal troubles.  There’s Linda Evanglista acting like that the girl you hated in high school, and Kate Moss acting like the new girl in town.  And maybe most importantly, there’s Mizrahi’s mother, who was his biggest cheerleader.

It’s all a lot of fun, but is tempered a bit by knowing what happened after the cameras stopped rolling.  The director of the movie, Douglas Keeve, was Mizrahi’s boyfriend at the time of the shooting, but after the movie was released the couple broke up, reportedly due to Mizrahi’s anger at how he was portrayed.  In 1998, Mizrahi’s backer, Chanel, pulled out, leaving Mizrahi high and dry.  He was forced to close the business.  (For a great analysis of this,  see Teri Agin’s book, The End of Fashion.)

Seventeen years after it was filmed, the movie looks a bit like a period piece, the era of the Supermodel maybe.  And there’s no evidence that I could see of Anna Wintour, but instead we are treated to the serious wisdom of Polly Mellen:  ” Be careful of makeup; be careful.”

I’m just hoping that Mizrahi’s appearance on Project Runway All Stars will have all of the humor of Unzipped, minus the diva-ness of The Fashion Show.

Photo copyright Miramax Home Entertainment

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