The models walked along a rectangular catwalk, half the time bathed in yellow light before turning into bright and blazing white – and, suddenly, a dress that looked like a dull eggshell yellow is revealed to be a howling piece of neon.
Since leaving his apprenticeship at Calvin Klein and selling his first collection to Bergdorf Goodman in 1986, he has seen any number of booms and busts in his business. Even after the 1995 documentary “Unzipped” (in which the film’s director, Douglas Keeve, his boyfriend at the time, captured his sweetness along with the hissy fits and nail-biting angst surrounding the creation of his 1994 fall collection), when he became a bona fide star to a wider audience, his couture line reportedly had millions in sales, but it still couldn’t turn a profit.
Mizrahi, 51, was born to a Conservative Jewish family of Syrian descent in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. At age 10, his father gave him a sewing machine. And the rest, as they say, is couture history as he went on to attend the High School of Performing Arts and Parsons School of Design.
He has earned criticism from many in the fashion world for his perceived disinterest in his own fashion lines. He is more interested in being a TV personality and actor, his critics say. Indeed, Mizrahi is one of the most recognizable designers currently working. He even has a nightclub act that he intermittingly performs. Of his cabaret singing, The New York Times wrote, “His singing voice is closer to Harvey Fierstein than Michael Feinstein, but it hardly matters. He knows how to put on a show.”
Whether it’s fashion or cabaret, Isaac Mizrahi is indeed a showman.