Isaac Mizrahi on the two style secrets every woman should know

Fashion’s favourite funny guy, Isaac Mizrahi, dishes on old movies, new models and the secret to great style.

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In Isaac Mizrahi's studio where we met with him
In Isaac Mizrahi’s studio where we met with him

On finding inspiration:

“I love films from the ’30s and ’50s . . . the design of everything, the clothes, the furniture — what’s more beautiful than that period? And all the colours you see in ’50s Technicolor you can never really reproduce. It’s because of the way the film was processed back then. Take green, for example. You’re never going to get the exact same green colour again, but you can try. That’s what I do a lot; I try to reproduce that beautiful stuff.”

On his supermodel BFFs:

“I’ve been very close friends with all of them: Naomi, Linda, Christie, Cindy. Those girls were serious stars who represented a brave way of being a woman, and they navigated the world in this super-glamorous style. It seems like the girls today are supposed to represent a kind of purity — they are every inch as glamorous, but there is very little bravado.”

Isaac and Cindy Crawford in 1995
Isaac and Cindy Crawford in 1995 Photo by Ron Gallella/ Getty Images

On the secret to great style:

“You can’t skimp on hair or shoes. It starts with your hair. You have to have the right cut and colour, so that it can look either wonderfully undone or beautifully put together. And then the other thing is a great pair of shoes. I think it’s best to mess some little thing up in your look if you want to balance it all out properly and not be too polished. As Diana Vreeland used to say, if you get the two ends right, everything in the middle kind of works.”

On stocking comfort foods:

“Right now there’s just ice, ice cream and vodka in my freezer and tons of cheese in my fridge. I never feel fully secure unless there’s a lot of cheese in my house. I don’t know what that means, but cheese equals a sense of comfort for me.”

On reinvention:

“I always try to change my approach. I think that my inner critic (I call it my inner mean mommy) keeps me fresh, because I never really feel satisfied. I think it’s this mixture of being both pleased and not pleased with what you’ve done that propels you to do the next thing.”

On personal style:

“My approach to getting dressed, at this age, this size and this moment in my life, is that I don’t really have the time every day to put myself together, so I just wear black. Of course if I’m on Oprah or Project Runway All Stars, then I think about what I’m wearing because I represent a whole other thing, and I have to dress a little bit better. And that’s not a problem; it’s kind of fun. So I have five T-shirts that I wear to death and hundreds of suits that get worn once. It’s ironic, but true.”

On his fave pastimes:

“I’m happiest in Bridgehampton, New York, where I have a little painting studio, and I get to work on things like prints and sketches of clothes. But I’m also really happy on stage, especially when I do my cabaret act with my boys. I have these beautiful men who I sing and perform with — I should try to bring the show to Canada!” Please do!

Isaac Mizrahi Live! ballet flats
Isaac Mizrahi Live! ballet flats

Isaac Mizrahi showed his first runway collection in 1987 and has since dressed everyone from Kate Moss to Michelle Obama. He’s a judge on Project Runway All Stars and is currently collaborating with The Shopping Channel. His newest line, Isaac Mizrahi Live!, comes to Canada on September 6.