“Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History” is the first museum exhibition to focus on the influential American fashion designer, artist, and entrepreneur. On view from March 18 to August 7, 2016, the exhibition explores Isaac Mizrahi’s unique position at the intersection of high style and popular culture. While best known for his clothing designs, Mizrahi’s creativity has expanded over a nearly three decade career to embrace acting, directing, set and costume design, writing, and cabaret performance. Spanning his first collection in 1988 to the present day, An Unruly History weaves together the many threads of his prolific career, juxtaposing work in fashion, film, television, and the performing arts.
Isaac Mizrahi’s inventive and provocative style advances complex issues within the fashion arena, igniting a spirited discourse about high versus low, modern glamour, and contemporary culture. For example, 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 humble cotton undershirts paired with floor-length taffeta skirts. Uniting opposites is a Mizrahi signature, which arises in his many combinations of evening and sportswear, formal and casual, and couture and mass market.
Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History is organized thematically, exploring key trends in Mizrahi’s work — from the use of color and prints, to witty designs that touch on issues of race, religion, class, and politics. The core of the exhibition features iconic designs from the Isaac Mizrahi New York clothing label (1987 – 1998), the “semi-couture” collections (2003 – 2011), and the trailblazing line for Target (2002 – 2008). The show is comprised of 42 “looks” that include clothing, hats, jewelry, shoes, accessories, and costumes for the theater, the opera, and the Mark Morris Dance Group. Also featured are the designer’s original drawings, performance stills, and behind-the-scenes photographs. A bespoke multi-screen video installation showcases a variety of content drawn from film and television cameos and runway shows, as well as from the award-winning documentary Unzipped; the television program The Isaac Mizrahi Show; scenes from the cabaret LES MIZrahi; appearances on Project Runway; and the current QVC network show IsaacMizrahiLive!.
Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History is organized by Chee Pearlman, Guest Curator, with Kelly Taxter, Assistant Curator, the Jewish Museumhttp://thejewishmuseum.org.
About Isaac Mizrahi
Isaac Mizrahi (b. 1961) was born 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, followed by 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 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 in addition to 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 inIsaac Mizrahi Live! a call-in home shopping TV show that airs weekly on the QVC network. He also appears as a judge onProject Runway All Stars.Since 2013, Mizrahi has directed and narrated the annual Peter and the Wolf at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, directed and designedThe 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.