In last year’s documentary Unzipped, Isaac Mizrahi uttered one major revelation: Nanook of the North profoundly impacted his fall ’94 collection. That’s not all. Growing up in ’70s Brooklyn, Mizrahi was sent into fashion fevers by a slew of movies that served up style, slippers first. Next week, American Movie Classics kicks off Fashion Classics, a festival of 10 films that shaped his elegant-with-a-wink vision. Here’s Mizrahi’s rundown on his cinematic sources of inspiration.
Auntie Mame, starring Rosalind Russell as Manhattan’s most eccentric aunt: ”It’s the essence of why I became a designer.”
Fashion Find: ”She’s in mourning, wearing this black, very covered-up thing. Suddenly, she takes the jacket off. Her back is completely scooped out and there’s a bunch of violets at her rear end.”
How to Steal a Million, featuring Audrey Hepburn, Peter O’Toole, and art theft in Paris: ”You know you’re in for a treat from the first shot of her in an incredible car with her white glasses and hat.”
Fashion Find: ”She meets O’Toole in a hotel bar wearing a perfect black lace dress. She completely transforms herself from day to evening in, like, five minutes.”
The Lady Eve, with Barbara Stanwyck as a con artist who falls for Henry Fonda: ”My favorite movie. It’s so much about self-creation through clothes and hair and accessories.”
Fashion Find: ”She wears a Brazilian-looking thing with matching skirt and high heels. When she trips him in the dining room, one shoe gets a close-up.”
That Touch of Mink, with Cary Grant as a wealthy playboy pursuing Doris Day: ”Doris Day could be elected into the [fashion] Hall of Fame tomorrow.”
Fashion Find: ”She has a raincoat lined in mink, with different colored shells. It goes from red to green to beige, constantly maintaining its mink interior.”
Midnight Lace, Vogues of 1938, There’s Always Tomorrow, Kiss Them for Me, The Best of Everything, and The Palm Beach Story round out Mizrahi’s favorites. As Mame might say, it’s a fashion banquet. Don’t starve.