Isaac Mizrahi evokes the golden era of the Upper West Side
Feb 21, 2009
I don't know about you, but I thought there was something very nostalgic about the Fall 2009 Isaac Mizrahi show. It evoked the Upper West Side of the early '90s, and the kind of weatherbeaten, shaggy chic of the New York intellectuals (writers, editors, saxophonists) that then populated the neighborhood.
Held at the New York Public Library, models sashayed down the runway to an upbeat, jazzy piano tunes that could have accompanied wet cobblestones and autumn rain. The silhouettes, achieved with layering oversized cardigans, striped sweaters, big-shouldered blazers, and above-ankle-length roomy slacks, looked familiar and comfortable, like overstuffed armchairs and soup-tureen-sized coffee mugs.
The show evoked a time when grunge was just beginning to exert its sartorial influence, and it was actually a good thing to dress dowdy after the excess of the '80s. Girls had yet to hear of "The Rachel" and grew their hair straight and shoulder-length, maybe pinned back with a tourtoise barette. On Saturday nights, everyone went to Woody Allen movies and afterward, ate pastrami sandwiches at Artie's Deli.
And the colors! Long before Mizrahi was known as the Target designer (I have to admit, I breathed a sigh of relief when they announced that he was no longer designing for Target — even though this means I can probably no longer afford his stuff), Mizrahi was known for his bold, inventive use of color (Did anyone think red and purple looked good together before this guy?). The color palate of this collection was purposefully autumnal: dull olive greens, shabby browns, oranges, aubergines, red.
As the show progressed, the roomy silhouettes and drabby colors began to give way to sleeker shapes in the form of statuesque gowns and gold or silver metallics — reminiscent of the way Calvin Klein minimalism slowly began to take over the dowdy look of the early '90s.
And by the end of the show, wouldn't you know it, an entire era had passed.
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