Today on Pardon My French, meet Isaac Mizrahi! Isaac has always been a mystery to me. A real designer rock star, the subject of the cult movie Unzipped, and an amazing entertainer, he’s turned his name into a mega brand that touches everything, from fragrance to tv – he even does stand up comedy…
And today, you can visit an exhibition of his work,“Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History,” at the Jewish Museum in New York City.
He does so much, I’m always wondering what drives him.
He’s unapologetic, walks to the beat of his own drums, doesn’t let anyone label him, and above all, has been great at following his creative force.
As you can imagine, millions of questions came to my mind… And as you will hear, I’m not sure he answered all of them. Isaac is just way too good at telling his own story, and I definitely have lots to learn from him…
On his biggest success not being his fashion shows
Garance: What is your biggest success?
Isaac: The biggest success was my one man show on off Broadway.
Garance: How do you measure your success?
Isaac: By the feeling you get, concurring something or being okay in the world. I really felt okay with the world and myself and I had just got a dog and I was living in that apartment, I was so happy. I didn’t have a boyfriend, I didn’t need anything, I was just doing that show and it was kinda boring doing the same show all the time but there was something to live for with the theater and the little audience.
On being a true New Yorker
Isaac: I have lived in New York since I was born in Brooklyn and I went to high school on 46th street and then Parsons which was in New York!
Garance: A real New Yorker.
Isaac: That’s right, I never left New York and I don’t like to leave New York so much. I really don’t. I know, it’s really bad. It’s like that Woody Allen thing where they have to scrape, claw and clutch the table with me when I leave.
On taking the leap of creating a fashion label
Isaac: It was really great. It didn’t feel like work. It felt like this incredible laser focus. I got this amazing apartment on Greene Street. And Greene Street at this time was absolutely amazing – it was just divine. SoHo in the 1980’s. And it was just a burnt out mess and there was all this real estate. It was me, Annika, and two sewers, and we had our first show 7-8 months later. I decided to have a show in this loft right below the apartment where I was living.
Garance: And how did you feel?
Isaac: When you are in it, it doesn’t feel that remarkable.
On fashion in the 80’s
Garance: How was fashion at that time?
Isaac: It was great. It was really great. It was built more like an orgasm. You would prep things, prep things, and prep things, and there was this big explosion and then it was over. And then at the show there was a big surprise! I think that’s the major difference between then and now. There are no secrets anymore.
On the meaningless but most gratifying art of writing
Garance: When people ask me what I would keep doing, I would say writing.
Isaac: Is that so?
Garance: Yes, all the time!
Isaac: It’s impossible right? It’s an impossible thing?
Garance: And for me, it’s the best way to communicate.
Isaac: It’s the purest thing. And the putting together of words. I won’t tell this to anyone, but sometimes I write a poem, a crazy, little poem that has no meaning, well nothing has meaning, you know what I mean, and it’s the most meaningless thing in the world but it’s the most gratifying.
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