Film Review – Unzipped (1995)
So after a brief tweet conversation with the incomparable Bevy Smith, I realized I needed to update myself on some fashion history. Isaac Mizrahi was one of the leading designers in the late 80's to the mid 90's, until his house was closed due to mounting financial woes with the parent company. This film, however, focuses on a pivotal time for Mizrahi...he's just shown his spring line to very bad reviews and was gearing up for his Fall 1994 collection. The film starts with a beleaguered Mizrahi talking about how depressing bad reviews are. He was honest about how the reviews hurt his feelings but that he was going to get himself together and work on this new collection.
The film goes through the creative process of a collection, from concept to production. It's definitely not glitz and glamour but a lot of rushing, hard work and being pulled in 50 million directions all at once. One of my favorite parts was an impromptu shoot with Cindy Crawford during a fitting of the collection. Isaac and Cindy shared what seemed to be a chill moment between friends in the middle of what was a crazy time for Mizrahi. The collection was inspired by Nanook of the North. Mizrahi drew on Eskimo influences and used faux fur on many of his pieces. Another pivotal scene occurs as the time of Mizrahi's show is approaching, one of his team shows him a WWD cover praising the Eskimo chic of Gaultier. In a bit of a fit, Mizrahi asks the person why they would show him something like that. I was inclined to agree...it was a tense moment, but Mizrahi gathered himself and pushed ahead.
The film goes to the show and we see such fashion legends like Shalom Harlow, Veronica Webb, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista walking the runway. A bratty Evangelista was the highlight of the runway backstage. The collection was a visual feast of color and texture and the critics thought so as well. Mizrahi had vindicated himself.
After viewing the movie, I thought about how collections are sometimes driven by more of consumer want rather than designer vision. It's about what makes money and not showcasing the genius that lies in the brains of designers. One of the greats, Alexander McQueen always broke molds and confines and was a success because of it. He evolved on his own terms, much like Mizrahi did in Unzipped. I understand the economic times we live in drive design houses to make what people will buy, but just a little more fashion concentrate from designers the world over would be a beautiful site to behold.
Below are selections from Mizrahi's 1994 Fall collection as well as a screen shot of the late Eartha Kitt meeting with Mizrahi during the movie
photos of the collection : isaacmizrahinyc.com