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.
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