Podcast 249: Happier Podcast Book Club: The Legendary Isaac Mizrahi Talks about Fashion, Family, and Self-Knowledge in “I.M.”

Happier Podcast Book Club discussion

I.M. by Isaac Mizrahi. 

This year, we’ve launched our Happier Podcast Book Club, and today we’ll talk about our third choice—the brilliant memoir I.M. by Isaac Mizrahi.

Now, if you don’t know much about Isaac Mizrahi, there’s a lot to learn. He’s an American fashion designer, TV presenter, and Chief Designer of the Isaac Mizrahi brand for Xcel Brands. He was a permanent judge on Project Runway All Stars, a TV fashion-competition show. You may have seen the 1995 documentary Unzipped  which follows him as he plans his fall 1994 collection. He’s had his own interview show on TV, he’s been a costume designer for three Broadway shows, he performs cabaret shows. He did designer Band-aids with Johnson & Johnson!

We were so pleased to have Isaac with us in the studio here in New York City.

We talk about his discussion of old Loehmann’s, New York City, the High School of Performing Arts, self-doubt and clarity, the beauty of color, and many other things. We talk a lot about the power of re-framing, and Isaac describes a powerful moment of re-framing that sent his career in an entirely new direction. If you want to read for yourself the passage that Isaac read aloud, it’s on page 327. My favorite few sentences from what he read:

So many great artists reach a pinnacle in their achievements and spend the rest of their days building on those ideas, masterfully making work that refers back to that original genius. Especially in fashion, that is what you do. But it wasn’t just new fabric, new clothes I sought, it was a whole different world…I started letting the idea of mastery slip away in favor of artistic peace of mind.

Speaking of our favorite passages, one of my favorite passages is his description of a day in spring 1978, at the Metropolitan Museum during his visit to an exhibit, “Richard Avedon Photographs 1946-1976″:

Inspiration presented its usual double-edged sword. The Avedon exhibit filled me with inspiration, ideas, and an impulse to get to work, followed again by the familiar tinge of spiritual nausea. I floated among the beauty in that gallery. But I also sensed that the level of greatness could never be equaled. Contemplating the arduous road ahead trying to get anywhere near that level of perfection, I felt defeat.

Follow Isaac Mizrahi on Instagram: @imisaacmizrahiChristopher John Rogers is the name of the designer that Isaac was trying to remember.

Isaac’s Try This at Home

As an insomniac, Isaac loves to have the TV on all the time. Even when he’s reading, he keeps it on, on mute.

Remember: Whenever it is and wherever you are, there’s always a book waiting for you.


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