Mizrahi, Isaac

views updated May 17 2018

Mizrahi, Isaac

October 14, 1961 Brooklyn, New York

Fashion designer

Isaac Mizrahi holds the distinction of being one of today's best-known American fashion designers. His fame comes from far more than his runway creations, however: Mizrahi is a bona fide celebrity who has applied his abundant energy to a number of diverse projects. In 1995, early in his career as a designer, he was the subject of a widely praised film documentary titled Unzipped. During 1997 he published a collection of three comic books under the title Isaac Mizrahi Presents the Adventures of Sandee the Supermodel. Two years after the 1998 closing of his high-priced clothing design business, Mizrahi explored his love of theater by crafting and starring in a one-man Off-Broadway cabaret show called Les Mizrahi. The following year he began hosting his own offbeat talk show, fittingly called The Isaac Mizrahi Show, on the cable network Oxygen. During 2004 Mizrahi returned to his fashion-design origins with the launch of two new ventures appealing to very different members of the buying public: an affordable yet fashionable line of clothing for discount retailer Target, and Isaac Mizrahi to Order, a company creating high-end custommade clothing for consumers willing to spend $20,000 on a single dress. Through all of his various projects, Mizrahi has displayed a fun-loving, humorous, and adventurous style, proving that even high fashion need not take itself too seriously.

"There is one common philosophy, one thing that you can do no matter who you are or what you look like: You can actually get passionate instead of remaining cool or instead of trying to look like everybody else. You canyou mustimmerse yourself passionately in who you are if you want to have style."

Mizrahi as student

Mizrahi was born in Brooklyn and raised in Ocean Parkway, New Jersey, in a fairly religious Jewish household. He recalled being obsessed with fashion from a very young age, an interest he came by naturally. His father, Zeke, manufactured children's clothes, and his well-dressed mother, Sarah, often took her youngest child shopping with her in New York's finer shops, including Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. In Unzipped, Sarah Mizrahi recalled a four-year-old Isaac becoming transfixed by the artificial daisies decorating a pair of her shoes. At the age of eight Mizrahi moved with his family back to Brooklyn. Two years later, after his father bought him a sewing machine, Mizrahi began making clothes for puppets worn during neighborhood birthday parties. By age thirteen he had graduated to making clothes for humans, including himself, his mother, and his mother's friend, Sarah Haddad.

Mizrahi's parents wanted him to get a religious education, and they enrolled him at a nearby yeshiva, a private Jewish school. The somewhat rebellious and flamboyant Mizrahi did not exactly fit in at the conservative school, and he was repeatedly suspended or expelled for impersonating the rabbis and drawing fashion sketches in Bibles. The teachers "thought I was sacrilegious," he told Bridget Foley of WWD. "They told my parents I was very abnormal." His parents supported his interest in fashion, but they were determined that he give the yeshiva a chance. Foley explained that "after each of his expulsions, his mother would unzip the high-style creation she had on that day, remove the red nail polish and jewelry, dig up some dowdy dress, and go to the Yeshiva, where she would shake her head and, putting on a pathetic look, make a plea for sympathy." Each time, Mizrahi would be accepted back. Eventually, however, he left the yeshiva to pursue an opportunity much closer to his heart, enrolling at New York's High School for the Performing Arts. There he studied drama, music, and dance, and, after losing seventy-five pounds during his first semester, he developed the confidence to express himself.

Mizrahi soon realized that while he loved the performing arts, his true passion was for fashion design. He began taking evening classes at the highly respected Parsons School of Design. He later studied full-time at Parsons, immediately attracting notice for his sophisticated design skills. After his junior year, Mizrahi landed a part-time job with the esteemed designer Perry Ellis, and worked full-time for Ellis after graduating. Mizrahi worked long hours for Ellis, learning all he could about every aspect of the fashion industry. Though at the time he thought that Ellis asked too much of him, Mizrahi later realized that he owed his mentor, who died in 1986, a great deal. "He was a poet, a real artist," he told Foley. "In retrospect I know I took so much and he gave everythingfrom exposing me to the fabric market, to teaching me not to be too concerned with what the press expects from you." After leaving Perry Ellis, Mizrahi worked for designers Jeffrey Banks and Calvin Klein.

Mizrahi as design superstar

In 1987 he started his own business with the financial support of Sarah Haddad Cheney, formerly Sarah Haddad, the family friend who had been a beneficiary of the teenaged Mizrahi's earliest design efforts. He started slowly, crafting his clothes in a rented loft in SoHo, a neighborhood in New York, and delivering his designs from the backseat of Cheney's car. These early designs attracted the notice of many in the industry, and Mizrahi gained the backing of additional investors. He gave his first major show in the spring of 1988, an event attended by only a few members of the press who had taken a chance that something interesting might come from this relatively unknown designer. Those in attendance soon realized that this chance had paid off, as they witnessed the unveiling of a major new talent. His line was widely praised for its fresh approach, combining glamour and elegance with unassuming simplicity. He mixed unusual colors and made use of patterns, including tartan plaid, not generally associated with high fashion. Mizrahi became an overnight sensation, winning the best newcomer award in 1988 and the 1989 award for best women's designer from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). He went on to win CFDA's prized Designer of the Year award three times.

Throughout the early 1990s Mizrahi continued to earn praise for his clever, creative designs, while also exploring his love for the performing arts by designing costumes for ballets and other productions. His preparations for the fall line in 1994 were filmed for the documentary movie Unzipped, which was released in 1995. Directed by Douglas Keeve, who at the time was romantically involved with Mizrahi, Unzipped combined photos and home movies from Mizrahi's childhood with footage of the world-famous designer busily preparing for his upcoming show. In an article written for Entertainment Weekly, actress and former model Lauren Hutton declared that Unzipped "is the definitive movie about the fashion industry." She went on to report that "it's impossible to resist getting caught up in Isaac's talent and enthusiasm." While some reviewers complained that Mizrahi comes off as annoying and that he and the supermodels who wear his clothes appear whiny and spoiled, others praised the film for its honest look at both the glamour and the competitiveness of the fashion business. The film certainly raised Mizrahi's profile among the general public, transforming him from a successful young designer into a celebrity.

Mizrahi explored other facets of his creativity with the 1997 publication of his book, Isaac Mizrahi Presents the Adventures of Sandee the Supermodel. Consisting of three separate comic books packaged together, Sandee the Supermodel tells the tale of a beautiful girl from Bountiful, Utah, who is discovered by fashion designer Yvesaac Mizrahi, a character quite similar to the book's author. On her way to becoming a world-famous supermodel, Sandee encounters petty and competitive behavior from her fellow models and struggles with drug problems and an eating disorder. Not long after the book's publication, Mizrahi began working on a film based on the Sandee stories. As his fame spread and fashion editors continued to praise his designs, Mizrahi seemed to have it all. But in 1998 Mizrahi shut down his design business after Chanel, his financial backer, pulled out due to concerns about low sales figures. Upon learning of Chanel's decision to withdraw funding, Mizrahi realized that he had three choices, as he explained to People magazine: "One was operating on a shoestring. Another was finding other backers. The third was closing. I thought, 'Move on, darling. Move on.'" And move on he did, choosing as his next adventure a completely new form of self expression.

Mizrahi as performer

In the fall of 2000 Mizrahi drew on his theatrical education to create a one-man cabaret act, an intimate performance that might be seen in a small nightclub or restaurant. Mizrahi's show, performed in an Off-Broadway theater, combined personal stories with gossip about the fashion industry and classic songswith lyrics altered to fit Mizrahi's lifefrom Broadway musicals. Mizrahi also displayed his design skills during the show, drawing quick sketches and using an old-fashioned sewing machine to create articles of clothing. While critics acknowledged that Mizrahi's singing was not his strong suit, many were charmed by his open, engaging, and energetic manner. Such skills came in handy when, the following year, Mizrahi became host of his own television talk show on cable's Oxygen Network. With a steady stream of celebrity guests from the fashion and entertainment worlds, Mizrahi offered audiences an amusing and sometimes odd array of activities. A typical sampling of the shows during the third season featured Mizrahi taking late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien shopping for ties, and teaching Six Feet Under star Lauren Ambrose how to knit a hat.

While his television and theater work provided creative satisfaction and, in some respects, offered a welcome relief from the intensity of owning a design business, Mizrahi eventually returned to fashion in 2004 with two very different projects. Bringing high fashion to the average, cost-conscious consumer, Mizrahi launched a line of affordable clothing with a stylish twist, in partnership with Target, the discount retailer. With prices beginning at around $10 and topping out at around $70, Mizrahi's Target line signalled a clear departure from his earlier high-priced designs. For those who wish to spend outrageous sums on clothing, however, Mizrahi began a new service called Isaac Mizrahi to Order. Operating through the upscale department store Bergdorf Goodman, Mizrahi's business offers custom-designed pieces, with prices starting at about $5,000. With a June 2004 show highlighting the Target line as well as newer, high-end items, Mizrahi once again enchanted fashion editors and journalists, reminding observers of what had been lacking during the time when he was absent from the scene. Philip D. Johnson of Lucire stated that Mizrahi's return "brought back the keen sense of fun that has been sorely missing in fashion in recent years." Both the Target line and the made-to-order service have allowed Mizrahi the freedom to design clothes without having to worry about managing every aspect of a full-fledged design business. The arrangement has freed him up to continually explore new avenues of expression. In the midst of his return to the design industry, for example, Mizrahi prepared to direct his first film, The Extra Man, based on a novel by Jonathan Ames.

For More Information


Adato, Allison, and Fannie Weinstein. "A Second Act." People (August 18, 2003): p. 105.

"Down, Not Out." People (October 19, 1998): p. 113.

Foley, Bridget. "Isaac Mizrahi: Setting out for Stardom." WWD (April 18, 1988): p. 9.

Hutton, Lauren. "Unzipped. " Entertainment Weekly (March 8, 1996): p. 73.

"Isaac Mizrahi." Esquire (March 2000): p. 192.

Isherwood, Charles. "Les Mizrahi. " Variety (October 30, 2000): p. 34.

Yee, Amy. "Target Hopes to Turn Heads off the Catwalk." Financial Times (October 21, 2003): p. 11.

Web Sites

Johnson, Philip D. "The Crown Prince Is Back." Lucire. http://www.lucire.com/2003/fall2004/0719fe0.shtml (accessed on July 27, 2004).

Mizrahi, Isaac

views updated May 18 2018


American designer

Born: New York City, 14 October 1961. Education: Attended New York High School for the Performing Arts; graduated from Parsons School of Design, New York, 1982. Career: Assistant designer,Perry Ellis, New York, 1982-83; womenswear designer, Jeffrey Banks, New York, 1984; designer, Calvin Klein, New York, 1985-87; formed own company, 1987; menswear collection introduced, 1990; began designing costumes for ballet and modern dance productions, from 1990; designed accessories line, 1992; handbags, 1993; shoes, 1997; lost backing and closed business, 1998; debut of one-man show, LES MIZrahi, 2000. Awards: Council of Fashion Designers of America award, 1988, 1989, 1991; Fashion Industry Foundation award, 1990; Michaelangelo Shoe award, New York, 1993; Dallas Fashion award for Excellence.




Martin, Richard, and Harold Koda, Bloom, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995.

Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion, Third Edition, New York, 1996.


"Mr. Clean: New Designer Isaac Mizrahi," in Vogue, February 1988.

Slonim, Jeffrey J., and Torkil Gudnason, "Retro-Active: Back to the 1960s with Isaac Mizrahi," in Interview, March 1988.

Foley, Bridget, "Isaac Mizrahi: Setting Out for Stardom," in WWD, 18 April 1988.

"Color Me Chic," in Connoisseur (New York), October 1988.

Hoare, Sarajane, "Vogue's Spy: Isaac Mizrahi," in Vogue (London), November 1988.

Bender, Karen, "Isaac Mizrahi," in Taxi (New York), February 1989.

Mansfield, Stephanie, "Nobody Beats the Miz," in Vogue, February 1989.

Mower, Sarah, "Isaac Mizrahi," in Vogue (London), September 1989.

Jeal, Nicola, "The Divine Mr. M.," in the Observer Magazine (London), 1 April 1990.

Hepple, Keith, "Plum in the Middle of the Pomegranate," in The Independent (London), 12 April 1990.

Menkes, Suzy, "Mizrahi: The Shooting Star," in the International Herald Tribune, 17 April 1990.

Wayne, George, "Brooklyn Kid K.O.s Couturiers," in Interview, June 1990.

Talley, André Leon, "The Kings of Color," in Vogue, September 1990.

Gross, Michael, "Slaves of Fashion: Isaac Mizrahi, the Great Hip Hope," in New York Magazine, 1 October 1990.

DeCaro, Frank, "Mizrahi Loves Company," in Mademoiselle (New York), January 1991.

"Isaac Mizrahi," in Current Biography, January 1991.

Bernhardt, Sandra, "I and Me," in Harper's Bazaar, March 1993.

Foley, Bridget, "Hard Acts to Follow: Isaac Mizrahi," in WWD, 24 October 1994.

Spindler, Amy M., "Cocktails, Anyone? Clothes that Strut," in the New York Times, 2 November 1994.

Menkes, Suzy, "Mizrahi's All-American Swirls," in the International Herald Tribune, 3 November 1994.

Ezesky, Lauren, "Isaac Unbound," in Paper (New York), March 1995.

Spindler, Amy M., "Luxurious Armor by Karan, Klein, Mizrahi," in the New York Times, 8 April 1995.

"Dueling Isaacs," in WWD, 10 April 1995.

Pogrebin, Robin, "Mizrahi, Once Again the Main Attraction, Sings it Like it is," in the New York Times, 3 October 2000.

Mattingly, Kate, "From Off the Rack to Off the Wall," in Dance Magazine, October 2000.

Malkin, Marc S., "Isaac Mizrahi's Next Stage," in US Weekly, 6 November 2000.

Comita, Jenny, "Life After Isaac," in Vogue, May 2001.

* * *

Isaac Mizrahi worked, upon graduation from Parsons School of Design, for Perry Ellis, Jeffrey Banks, and Calvin Klein. When he started his own business in 1987, he intimately knew the world of American sportswear at its best, but his work refined the sportswear model by a special sense of sophistication and glamor. His ideals, beyond those he worked for, were such American purists as Norell, Halston, Beene, and McCardell, each a designer of utmost sophistication. Suzy Menkes analyzed in the International Herald Tribune in April 1990: "The clean colors and Ivy League image of Perry Ellis sportswear might seem to be the seminal influence on Mizrahi. But he himself claims inspiration from his mother's wardrobe of all-American designers, especially the glamorous simplicity of Norman Norell."

It is as if Mizrahi was challenged by distilling the most well-bred form of each garment to an understated glamor, whether tartan taken to a sensuous evening gown but still buckled as if Balmoral livery; pocketbooks and luggage ingeniously incorporated into clothing with the practical pocket panache of McCardell; or versions of high style in adaptations of men's bathrobes or sweatshirting used for evening. While Mizrahi was often commended for the youthfulness of his clothing, the praise was for the freshness of his perception, his ability to recalculate a classic, not just a market for young women. His interest in the Empire waistline; his practicality of wardrobe separates in combination; and his leaps between day and evening addressed all women equally. In the early 1990s, many designers and manufacturers saw the value of simplification: Mizrahi sought the pure in tandem with the cosmopolitan.

When Sarah Mower of Vogue described Mizrahi in September 1989 as "that rare thing in contemporary design: a life-enhancing intelligence on the loose," she rightly characterized his revisionist, rational, distilling, pure vision. With his fall 1988 collection Mizrahi was immediately recognized by the New York Times as "this year's hottest new designer" in unusual color combinations (such as rust and mustard and orange-peel and pink) as well as the diversity of silhouettes from baby-doll dresses to evening jumpsuits to long dresses.

Mizrahi had clearly demonstrated the range of a commercially viable designer while at the same time demonstrating his simplifying glamor and the cool nonchalant charm of his smart (intellectually and aesthetically) clothing. The spa collection of 1988 included rompers and baseball jackets and playsuits as well as the debonair excess of trousers with paperbag waist. His spring 1989 collection assembled sources from all over the fashion spectrum to create a unified vision of elegance and appeal. The fall 1989 collection featured tartan (later developed by Mizrahi for a Twyla Tharp American Ballet Theater production in 1990) with most extraordinary accompaniment. In a notable instance, New York (21 August 1989) showed Mizrahi's tartan dress with his raccoon-trimmed silk taffeta parka in a perfect assembly of the wild and the urbane.

In 1990 Mizrahi showed a short-lived menswear line and sustained his color studies, creating double-faced wools and sportswear elements in watercolor-like colors, delicate yet deliberate. Spring 1990 was a typical Mizrahi transmogrification: black and white patterns recalling both art déco and the 1960s was, in fact, derived from costume for the Ballets Russes. In 1991 Mizrahi's themes were American, creating a kind of Puritan revival in dresses with collars and bows in spring/summer 1991 and an American ethnic parade in fall 1991, including Native American dress and a notable totem-pole dress inspired by Native American art.

Mizrahi's drive to find the most sophisticated version of each concept he developed was the leitmotif of his work. His spring 1991 collection examined motifs of the 1960s, but with a clever sharpness not observed in other designers of the same year looking back to the period. In 1991 his tube dresses with flounces were inspired by Norell, but given proportion. McCardell's audacious applications of cotton piqué are extended by Mizrahi's love of the same material and Halston's radical simplicity is inevitably a source for any designer longing to return to essential form. Mizrahi's color fields owed their consciousness to Perry Ellis, but the particular color sensibility was Mizrahi's own. Mizrahi's immaculate, ingenious modernism was as clearly aware of sources as it was pushed toward the clarification of form.

Mizrahi had referred to his style as a "classic New York look," which presumably meant a casual American idiom, but inflected with big-city reserve and refinement. Mizrahi captured something of Manhattan chic and glamor of the 1940s and 1950s. His fashion was indescribably beautiful in subtlety and sophistication. Yet Mizrahi soon gave it all up to pursue another dreamperforming. From the early 1990s Mizrahi had begun collaborating with choreographers like Twyla Tharp and Mark Morris, and designed costumes for an increasing number of ballets, modern dance productions, and even film.

Mizrahi himself was the subject of a documentary film, Unzipped, detailing the assemblage of his 1994 fall collection, working with Douglas Keeve, who directed, and Michael Alden, who produced. Released commercially to raise funds for varied AIDS programs, the experience must have helped crystallize Mizrahi's direction for the future. In 1998, after Chanel pulled its backing, Mizrahi closed his fashion business and was suddenly with little to do. Within a year he turned in a new direction, writing a one-man show about his life. The funny, satiric cabaret show was LES MIZrahi, yet the only similarity to the long-running and much honored show, Les Misérables was in name only. LES MIZrahi, debuted in Greenwich House Theatre in New York in October 2000, and was well received by critics and audiences.

For those yearning for the perfectly designed Mizrahi dress or outfit, a former protégée, Behnaz Sarafpour, garnered raves for her debut collection in 2001. Amid the praise for the black and white collection, however, were comments about Mizrahi's obvious influence on her style. For his part, Mizrahi declared in the May 2001 Vogue, "She knows what people really want to wear. She's a great editor of her own accord. I learned as much from her as she did from me."

Generous, funny, immensely talentedthat's Isaac Mizrahi. Whether on the stage, behind it designing costumes, or dressing Hollywood's elite, he made an indelible mark on the fashion scene. When asked by US Weekly in November 2000 if he missed designing, Mizrahi admitted this was so but countered, "I don't miss the business side of it. Just the idea of doing that makes me cringe." But would he ever return to designing? "I can't say never," he told US 's Marc Malkin, "There are all sorts of ways to sell clothes that feel more like me."

Richard Martin;

updated by Owen James

Isaac Mizrahi

views updated May 23 2018

Isaac Mizrahi

A premier American designer, Isaac Mizrahi (born 1961) established womenswear and menswear businesses noted for their uncluttered, witty designs before he was 30 years old.

Isaac Mizrahi was born in Brooklyn, New York, October 14, 1961, the youngest child and only son of Zeke and Sarah Mizrahi. He grew up in Ocean Parkway, New Jersey, in the tightknit Syrian Jewish community. Zeke Mizrahi worked in the garment industry, first as a pattern cutter on Wooster Street and later as a childrenswear manufacturer. Isaac's mother was instrumental in exposing him to fashion at an early age. A devoted fashion lover, Sarah Mizrahi exposed young Isaac to the genius of designers Balenciagas, Chanel, and Norman Norell. He would often accompany his mother on shopping trips to Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. She would also take Isaac to the ballet and to movies.

When Isaac was eight, his family moved to the middle-class Midwood section of Brooklyn. He contracted spinal meningitis during this time and his confinement was spent eating junk food and viewing television, especially old movies. The 1961 remake of Back Street, about an affair between a fashion designer and a married man, was a pivotal event in Mizrahi's development. The glamour of the fashion industry depicted in the movie became an inspiration to him to design clothes. When Isaac was 10 years old, Zeke Mizrahi bought a sewing machine for him. Isaac set up a workroom in the basement and created clothes for puppets for neighborhood birthday parties. At 13, Isaac was designing clothes for himself, his mother, and a close friend of his mother, Sarah Haddad.

Mizrahi was expelled several times from the strict Ye-shiva school he attended for impersonating rabbis and scribbling fashion sketches in his Bible. At six years old, the school required him to begin psychotherapy or they would not let him return. One Yeshiva teacher encouraged him to audition for Manhattan's High School of the Performing Arts—the school used as a basis in the movie and television series Fame. He was accepted and took diction, speech, singing, dance, and academic classes. He had a small role in Fame and wore a costume of his own design. At 15, while attending the Performing Arts High School, Mizrahi produced clothing under his first label, IS New York. His financial mentor for IS New York was Sarah Haddad.

When Sarah Haddad's husband fell ill, IS New York closed. Mizrahi continued to sketch his ideas. Zeke Mizrahi showed the sketches to a childrenswear designer, Ellie Fishman, who suggested that Isaac should attend the Parson's School of Design.

After graduating from the Yeshiva in 1979 he enrolled in Parsons full time. By his junior year at Parsons Mizrahi was an outstanding student. His junior collection, a final project, was videotaped by the school to show to future classes. Mizrahi got a job at Perry Ellis for the summer following his junior year. Perry Ellis was Mizrahi's first industry mentor, the man he called "my guardian angel." He continued to work for Ellis part-time during his senior year and was hired after his graduation. In 1983 Ellis fell ill from AIDS. During this time Isaac's father died. After working at Perry Ellis for two years after graduation, Mizrahi left the company and joined Jeffrey Banks to help spearhead a new womenswear collection.

He remained at Jeffrey Banks for a short time due to the withdrawal of financial backing by the parent company. Mizrahi then joined Calvin Klein, but remained there for less than a year because of personnel changes. During his short time at Calvin Klein he created one of the company's most interesting collections, highlighted by streamlined red suits.

After leaving Calvin Klein, in June 1987 he and Sarah Haddad-Cheney pooled $50,000 each and opened Mizrahi's own womenswear company. They occupied a loft on Greene Street in SoHo. Seven stores bought the first season's collection. By the first collection show in April 1988 Haddad-Cheney had secured additional financing from the owners of Gitano Jeans company. In 1990 the company's workrooms and showroom moved to an expanded space on Wooster Street. Mizrahi's menswear collection premiered in April 1990.

In 1995, Douglas Keeve directed a 79-minute documentary entitled Unzipped in which home movie clips of Mizrahi's childhood are pieced together with excerpts of his influences (including Mary Tyler Moore and the 1922 documentary Nanook of the North) which won the Audience Award at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and was praised for being "funny, succinct and modestly instructive about a fairly recondite business," Martha Duffy commented in her article for Time. The film presented a thorough portrayal of Mizrahi, the man—so fearful of rejection he hovers near depression. Viewers even see a few temper tantrums. His hard work and success, however, surge him out of dejection and one appreciates Mizrahi, the artist—a designer with a flamboyant personality. Audiences also learn a good deal about the fashion world from drawing board to catwalk. Besides the praise Keeve garnered for his documentary, viewers previously unfamiliar with Isaac Mizrahi learned that he doesn't take his success for granted, maintaining both a sense of humor and perspective. Audiences saw real-life footage of Mizrahi as a hyperactive baby, sketching fur pants while in bed, teasing supermodel Naomi Campbell about her navel ring, and crying when he reads about Jean-Paul Gaultier beating Mizrahi to the runway with a fashion first.

Unzipped seemed to be the extra spark in Mizrahi's fire. Although his company had been earning $10 million a year, a 1995 Newsweek article noted that he had yet to turn a profit. After Mizrahi made his debut on the silver screen, his popularity and recognition became even more prominent. When Mizrahi launched a new collection in February 1996 in New York, he also broadcast it live via satellite to locations outside the state. His new "Isaac" label featured two pink stars instead of A's, declaring, "Our motto is, Inside every woman is a star."' He's been tapped as star material himself, being called the Calvin Klein of Generation X.

The year 1997 proved to be a milestone in Mizrahi's career. He announced an unprecedented deal with three major Asian markets in Japan, Singapore, and Korea which included freestanding stores, in-store shops, wholesale distribution, manufacturing, and sublicenses in Japan and shops and distribution in Southeast Asia, an online ABC source reported. The deal was estimated to generate at least $150 million in retail sales by the year 2000.

In 1989, after two collections, Mizrahi received his first award, the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Perry Ellis Award for new fashion talent. In 1990 Mizrahi received the coveted CFDA Designer of the Year Award. He was also named best designer of 1990 by the Fashion Footwear Association of New York, and Crain's New York Business included him in their annual "40 Under 40" award for great strides in business at a young age.

Mizrahi stated that his inspiration came from "food and fun" and "motion and movies." "Le Miz," "Le Wiz," or "The Miz," as he was nicknamed, was compared with such design greats as Claire McCardell, Geoffrey Beene, Halston, and Norman Norell. His creations have been referred to as "classics, with a twist," "a blend of ease and elegance," and "simple shapes, clear colors and unlabored touches of wit"—all hallmarks of American style.

Further Reading

Several periodicals of the early 1990s feature Mizrahi and his designs: "A Conversation With My Alter Ego," Harper's Bazaar (March 1993); "Mizrahi Unzipped," Newsweek (July 24, 1995); "Life Along the Catwalk," Time (August 14, 1995); "Mizrahi Loves Company," Entertainment Weekly (March 8, 1996); "Movement—That's What Design Is All About," ELLE Magazine (June 1990); "The Great Hip Hope," Michael Gross, New York Magazine (October 1, 1990); "The New Smash Hit: Le Miz," Gentlemen's Quarterly (August 1990); "Nobody Beats The Miz," Vogue Magazine (February 1989); and "Shooting Stars, Isaac Mizrahi," Sarah Mower, British Vogue Magazine (September 1989). Online sources include "Media savvy Mizrahi beams himself up to launch line," http://www.detnews.com/menu/stories/34751.htm; "Mizrahi's Asian Coup," http://www.wwd.com/samples/today/Thursday/014.html; "'Unzipped' follows fall & rise of designer Mizrahi," http://www.cis.yale.edu/ydn/paper/9.23/9.23.95storyno.DB; "Unzipped," http://www.panix.com/~bfrazer/flicker/unzipped.html; and "Unzipped," http://www.mogul.co.nz/reviews/unzipped/unzipped.html. For a book on fashion facts see Lynn Schnurnberger, Let There Be Clothes (1991). □

Mizrahi, Isaac 1961–

views updated May 23 2018

MIZRAHI, Isaac 1961–


Born October 14, 1961, in Brooklyn, New York, NY; son of Zeke (in the clothing business) and Sarah (a homemaker) Mizrahi. Education: Studied fashion at the Parsons School of Design; attended the High School for the Performing Arts.

Addresses: Office—876 Centennial Ave., Piscataway, NJ 08854-3917; Manager—MBST Entertainment, 345 North Maple Dr., Suite 200, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

Career: Fashion designer, costume designer, actor, and writer. Perry Ellis, design assistant, 1982–84; Jeffrey Banks, design assistant, 1984–85; Calvin Klein, design assistant, 1985–87; cofounder (with Sarah Hadad Cheney), Isaac Mizrahi ready-to-wear design firm, New York, 1987–98; introduced menswear collection, 1990; launched accessories line, 1992; added handbags to line, 1993; launched shoe line, 1994; Isaac Mizrahi for Target line launched, 2002; concert appearances at various venues, including the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York City, 2003, and Joe's Pub, Public Theatre, New York City, 2004; launched Home Collection for Target, 2004; signed development deal with NBC Enterprises, 2004; designer of the line Isaac by Isaac Mizrahi; designer of made-to-order clothes.

Awards, Honors: Perry Ellis New Fashion Talent Award, Council of Fashion Designers of America, 1989; Fashion Industry Foundation Award, 1990; Designer of the Year Award, Council of Fashion Designers of America, 1990 and 1992; Michelangelo Show Award, New York, 1993; Emmy Award nomination (with Julie Weiss), outstanding individual achievement in costume design for a variety or music program, 1993, for Liza Minelli Live from Radio City Music Hall; Outer Critics Circle Award, outstanding costume designer, Drama Desk Award, outstanding costume design, and Hewes Design Award nomination, costume design, all 2002, for The Women; Dallas Fashion Award for excellence.


Television Appearances; Series:

The Isaac Mizrahi Show, Oxygen, beginning 2001.

Isaac (also known as Isaac Mizrahi), Style Network, beginning 2005.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Host, Style in Motion, TCM, 2003.

Television Appearances; Specials:

The Hollywood Fashion Machine (documentary), American Movie Classics, 1995.

Images of Life: Photographs That Changed the World, CBS, 1996.

Fire & Ice Ball '97, E! Entertainment Television, 1997.

Barry Levinson on the Future in the 20th Century: Yesterday's Tomorrows (documentary; also known as The 20th Century: Yesterday's Tomorrows), Showtime, 1999.

Himself, Miss America, ABC, 2002.

Voice of narrator, "Dog Eared," Happy to Be Nappy and Other Stories of Me (animated), HBO, 2004.

Behind the Apprentice: Dateline with Stone Phillips (documentary), NBC, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

VH1 97 Fashion Awards, VH1, 1997.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Himself, "The Mayor Who Came to Dinner," Spin City (also known as Spin), ABC, 1997.

Himself, Mad TV, Fox, 1997.

"Halston: All-American Chic," Biography (also known as A&E Biography: Halston), Arts and Entertainment, 1998.

Intimate Portrait: Cindy Crawford (documentary), Lifetime, 1998.

Voice of Gabe, "Something about Dr. Mary," Frasier, NBC, 2000.

Himself, "Plus One Is the Loneliest Number," Sex and the City, HBO, 2002.

Himself, "Tit for Tat," The Apprentice, NBC, 2004.

Himself, "Crimes of Fashion," The Apprentice 2, NBC, 2004.

Himself, Dinner for Five, Independent Film Channel, 2004.

Himself, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 2004.

Himself, Grin & Barrett, ABC, 2005.

Celebrity Charades, American Movie Classics, 2005.

Television Costume Designer; Specials:

Liza Minelli Live from Radio City Music Hall, PBS, 1993.

Stage on Screen: The Women, PBS, 2002.

Television Work; Awards Presentations:

Packaging wardrobe provider, The VH1 Fashion Awards, VH1, 1996.

Artistic consultant, The VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, VH1, 1999.

Television Work; Episodic:

"Falling Down Stairs," Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach, Canadian television, 1997, PBS, 1998.

Television Work; Pilots:

Producer, The Adventures of Sandee the Supermodel, 1999.

Film Appearances:

Touchstone, Fame, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1980.

Julian Russell, For Love or Money (also known as The Concierge), Universal, 1993.

Himself, Catwalk (documentary), Arrow Releasing, 1995.

(Uncredited) Himself, Unzipped (documentary), Miramax, 1995.

Bruce Bishop, Celebrity (also known as Woody Allen Fall Project), Sweetland Films, 1998.

Himself, Beautopia (documentary), Film Manufacturers/Fox Lorber Features, 1998.

Chef, Small Time Crooks, DreamWorks, 2000.

Art director Elio Sebastian, Hollywood Ending, DreamWorks, 2002.

Himself, Seamless (documentary), 2005.

Film Work:

Designer of fashion show clothes, For Love or Money (also known as The Concierge), Universal, 1993.

Designer of Ellen Barkin's evening gown, Bad Company, Buena Vista, 1995.

Wardrobe for the Goodyear Air hostesses, Creamaster 1, Arthouse Films, 1996.

Stage Appearances:

Les MIZrahi (cabaret production), Greenwich House Theatre, New York City, 2000.

"A Salute to NYC," The Drama Dept. Talent Shows, Drama Dept., Greenwich House Theatre, New York City, 2001.

Christmas Pageant Holiday Spectacular, Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York City, 2002.

Stage Costume Designer:

Brief Fling, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco, CA, 1990.

Santaland Diaries, 1996.

(And set designer) Les MIZrahi (cabaret production), Greenwich House Theatre, New York City, 2000.

Mark Morris Dance Group, New York City Opera, New York City, 2000.

The Women, Roundabout Theatre, New York City, 2001–2002.

Costume and set designer for other productions, including productions choreographed by Twyla Tharp.


Cabaret Productions:

Les MIZrahi, Greenwich House Theatre, New York City, 2000.

Comic Books:

Isaac Mizrahi Presents the Adventures of Sandee, the Supermodel, or, Yvesaac's Model Diaries, illustrated by William Frawley, Simon & Schuster, 1997.



Contemporary Fashion, second edition, St. James Press, 2002.


Dance, October, 2000, p. 54.

Fortune, December 22, 2003, p. 44.

Newsday, October 19, 2000.

Newsweek, October 27, 2003, p. 74.

New York Times, October 3, 2000.

People Weekly, October 19, 1998, p. 113; August 18, 2003, p. 105.

Redbook, April, 2005, p. 38.

Mizrahi, Isaac

views updated May 23 2018


MIZRAHI, Isaac. American, b. 1961. Genres: Essays. Career: Fashion designer. Apprenticed to designer Perry Ellis, 1982, full-time post, 1982-84; worked with Jeffrey Banks, 1984-85, and Calvin Klein, 1985-87; (with Sarah Hadad Cheney) founded design firm Isaac Mizrahi, 1987. Costume designer for stage productions. Appeared in films and on television. Publications: Isaac Mizrahi Presents the Adventures of Sandee, the Supermodel, or, Yvesaac's Model Diaries, 1997. Address: c/o Oxygen Media, Inc, 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011, U.S.A.

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