Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History
New York: Jewish Museum - Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History. Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History, until August 7, organized by Chee Pearlman and curated with Kelly Taxter, is the first museum exhibition to focus on the influential American fashion designer, artist, and entrepreneur Isaac Mizrahi. It explores 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, the exhibition weaves together the many threads of his prolific career, juxtaposing work in fashion, film, television, and the performing arts.
Above. The video installation showcases a variety of content drawn from film and television cameos and runway shows.
Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History
The Swatches Wall greets you at the entrance
“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: An Unruly History
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.
Above. Blossom Blazer – 1991 – double silk gazar and Ball Gown Sport – 1994 – silk taffeta and cotton T-shirt.
Sea Island – 1990 – apron shirt-waist
Lumberjack Ball Gown – 1994 – impermeable-silk down-filled jacket – silk taffeta skirt
“The brilliant light of a Flavin sculpture makes any kind of natural light seem sickly by comparison.”
Kitchen Sink Pink – 2006 – wool silk, synthetic dress
Cotton Candy Dress – 1994 – mohair, sequins, double-face satin ribbon
“I love sketching. That was my favorite part of making clothes – and it was also the most horrible part. But once I got into it, I was gone. You couldn’t talk to me. I was just lost in the bliss of making drawings.”
“The most fun thing in the world is to design costumes, because their only function is to create fantasy and tell a story.”
Platee - 1997 – hand-painted Lycra spandex and stretch georgette
Two Frog Attendants – 1997 - hand-painted Lycra spandex bodysuits – molded rubber heads
Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History. The exhibition 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.
“Sometimes the most beautiful thing is the raw construction.”
X-Ray – 2010 – cashmere, acetate coat
The Real Thing – 1994 – Coca-cola can paillettes
Mizrahi worked with the charity We Can, which employed homeless New Yorkers to gather and flatten Coke cans. These were then shipped to the luxury Parisian sequin maker Langlois-Martin, who cut the aluminum into paillettes. They were sent to India along with the dress patterns, where they were hand-embroided onto silk before finally being returned to the designer’s workshop in New York.
Colorfield – 2004 – hand-painted linen canvas, double-faced alpaca boucle – custom-made engraved Baccarat crystal buttons
Tee Pee Shearling – 1991 – beads, shearling, stretch wool crepe
“I think that the ability to laugh at myself sets me apart. I don’t understand people without humor, and I just like certain things because the have no humor. Like when you walk into some boutiques and they feel like mausoleums, with rows of ridged black handbags.”
Louis Vuitton Centenary Celebration Tote Bag – 1996 – acetate, saddle leather, canvas.
Dress-up Rain Booties – 2010 – tulle, acetate, plastic
Lobster Epaulet – 2010 – Lucite, leather
Jewish Museum – Museum shop – Isaac Mizrahi gifts
Jewish Museum - Russ and Daughters Museum Restaurant. After 102 years on the Lower East Side, Russ and Daughters, the landmark New York City appetizing shop on East Houston Street, has opened a new location uptown at the Jewish Museum.
Russ and Daughters Museum Restaurant. Purveyors of the highest quality smoked fish, bagels, and traditional baked goods, the Russ family for four generations has owned and operated Russ and Daughters since 1914.
Above. The take-out appetizing counter, offers traditional smoked fish and spreads by the pound, as well as bagel sandwiches.
Vegetarian Chopped Liver
Nut-Based with Toasted Matzo, Pickled Onion
Red and Golden Beets Salad
Walnuts, Grapefruit, Watercress, Pumpernickel, Goat Cheese Dressing
Russ and Daughters Museum Restaurant. The restaurant is situated in the lower level of the museum and seats seventy, the walls are decorated with an assemblage of Maria Kalman’s pen and ink drawings, entitled In This Life, There Was Very Much, 2015, given in loving memory of Rella Wieder by her mother Edith.
Challah Bread Pudding
Dried Apricots, Caramel Sauce
Jewish Museum – Valeska Soares – Time Has no Shadows
Using Walls, Floors and Ceilings: Valeska Soares
In the main lobby of the Jewish Museum the site-specific installation of artist Valeska Soares Time Has No Shadows - 2015, is a work that attempts to give form to the passage of time and connect its ungraspable infiniteness with the slipperiness of language and the instability of meaning. Soares’s artworks are often assembled from antiques and used materials, like those included in this work. This process of recirculation gives new life to the discarded and disused, and adds to the stories accumulated across their scratched and faded surfaces. In Time Has No Shadows, poetic texts are placed on the carpet in a spiral shape, with a subtly altered antique pocket watch hanging above each text.