The Jewish Museum will present the first museum exhibition focused on Isaac Mizrahi, the influential American fashion designer, artist, and entrepreneur. On view from March 18 to August 7, 2016, this survey exhibition explores Mizrahi’s unique position at the intersection of high style and popular culture.
While best known for his clothing design, Mizrahi’s creativity has expanded over a three decade career, moving beyond fashion to embrace acting, directing, set and costume design, writing, and cabaret performance. Beginning with his first collection in 1987 and running through the present day, Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History weaves together the many threads of Mizrahi’s prolific output, juxtaposing work in fashion, film, television, and the performing arts.
Mizrahi’s inventive and provocative style brings complex issues into the arena of fashion, igniting a spirited discourse about high versus low, modern glamour, and contemporary culture. His runway shows were cast with unconventionally beautiful models of all ethnicities, dressed in Star of David belts, Western wear infused handmade lace, Adidas sneakers in place of high heels, handbags worn as hats, or a humble cotton undershirt paired with a floor-length taffeta skirt. Uniting opposites is a Mizrahi signature, which can be seen in his many combinations of evening and sportswear, formal and casual, couture and mass market.
Mizrahi’s outsized personality, loquacious charm, and innate sense of timing have made him a beloved figure, appearing in living rooms across the country through his numerous film and television cameos, as a judge on Project Runway: All-Stars, and on his current show on the QVC network Isaac Mizrahi Live!.
Isaac Mizrahi was born in 1961 in Brooklyn, New York. Raised in a Jewish family, he attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush before transferring to New York City’s High School for the Performing Arts (he was a featured extra in the groundbreaking film, Fame, based on the school) and then Parsons School of Design. He entered the New York fashion scene in the late 1980s; his clothing line, Isaac Mizrahi New York, debuted at Bergdorf Goodman in 1986. In 1989 he received the Perry Ellis Award for Emerging Talent and was named Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Womenswear Designer of the Year, an award he won again in 1991.
Unzipped, a riotous, witty, and insightful documentary about the making of his fall 1994 collection, earned Mizrahi and the director, Douglas Keeve, the 1995 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. When his fashion house closed in 1998, Mizrahi followed other passions in theater and dance, designing costumes and sets for Mark Morris and Twyla Tharp and winning a 2002 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design for a Broadway revival of Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women. In 2003 he was the first fashion designer to launch a line of well-designed, affordable clothes in collaboration with Target.
Today he stars in Isaac Mizrahi Live!, a call-in home-shopping TV show that airs weekly on the QVC network. He also appears as a judge on Project Runway All Stars. Mizrahi has directed and narrated “Peter and the Wolf” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, directed and designed “The Magic Flute” and “A Little Night Music” for the Opera Theater of Saint Louis, and worked the red carpet at the Oscars and Golden Globe Awards. He is currently at work on a television series and memoir.
Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History will be organized thematically, exploring key trends in Mizrahi’s work—from the use of color and prints to his witty designs that touch on issues of race, religion, class, and politics. The core of the exhibition will feature iconic designs from the Isaac Mizrahi New York clothing label (1987–98), the “semi-couture” collections (2003–11), and his trailblazing line for Target (2002–8). Continue reading