“Color is the biggest luxury there is. It affects you on a deep emotional level that most people don’t think about. If you get the color right, you have the whole thing. If you get it wrong, it becomes a big distraction.”– Isaac Mizrahi
The fashion uninitiated might think J. Crew’s designers dreamed up the edgy concept of mixing basic cotton tee shirts with glamorous, floor-length taffeta skirts, but a young fashion designer, Isaac Mizrahi, was doing it brilliantly over two decades ago. As a matter of fact, many of Isaac’s creations in the 90s were forerunners of the looks that are immensely popular today.
Isaac knows how to ‘mix it up’ like no other designer in the peripatetic world of fashion. “Uniting opposites is a Mizrahi signature, which arises in his many combinations of evening and sportswear, formal and casual, and couture and mass market,” says the copy that introduces Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History, an exhibition at The Jewish Museum in New York, running through August 7th.
Unruly is a lovely word to define Isaac’s history. Who but he would have thought of putting Adidas sneakers on a model, in place of high heels; styling a handbag as a hat, or pairing wildly disparate colors and prints to create one glorious ensemble?
The first exhibition to spotlight the influential American fashion designer, artist and entrepreneur, it “weaves together the many threads of his prolific career, juxtaposing work in fashion, film, television, and the performing arts.” Isaac has acted, directed, designed sets and costumes, and crafted and starred in a one-man off-Broadway cabaret show called Les MIZrahi.
1. Daisy: A magnificent made-to-order coat created exclusively for the exhibition. Inspired by an early print from Isaac’s archive, the daisies are exploded, reconfigured, and hand-embroidered in sequins.
2. Lumberjack Ball Gown: Lumberjack plaid impermeable silk down-filled jacket & silk taffeta skirt, fall 1994
3. Baby Bjorn Ball Gown: Duchess satin Strapless ball gown and matching baby carrier, fall 1998. “The birth of a child should be integrated into a woman’s social life,” Isaac says.
4. Elevator Pad Gown: Grosgrain ribbon bodice, quilted silk and lamb’s wool skirt, spring 2005. Inspired by the protective moving pads for an elevator
5. Orange-Orange Coat: Wool melton coat with wool jersey striped jumpsuit, wool crepe scarf, fall 1988
6. Ball Gown Sport: Silk taffeta ball-gown skirt, cotton T-shirt, fall 1994