Starting out as an apprentice under such famous designers as Perry Ellis, Jeffrey Banks, and Calvin Klein, American fashion designer, television personality and actor Isaac Mizrahi has built his own business empire and established himself as one of the most successful fashion designers of the 1990s. A two-time CFDA Designer of the Year recipient, he picked up an Emmy nomination after creating the costumes for the PBS special “Liza Minnelli Live from Radio City Music Hall” (1992), which was based on Minnelli's 1991 stage show “Stepping Out.” Mizrahi also appeared in the 1995 documentary “Unzipped,” but his clothing business suffered a setback after Chanel withdrew its financial support in 1998. Mizrahi made a prospering comeback in the new millennium as the star and writer of the one man cabaret show “Les MIZrahi” (2000). He has since emerged as the host of Oxygen's “The Isaac Mizrahi Show” (2001-2003), Style Network's “Isaac” (2006), and Bravo's “The Fashion Show” (2009) and as a correspondent for E! on “The 2006 Golden Globe Awards” and “The 2006 Academy Awards.” He continues to design costumes for Broadway revivals, including 2001's “The Women,” from which Mizrahi won a Drama Desk Award, and other productions. He is also a creative director for Liz Claiborne.
Mizrahi has also acted in such movies as “For Love or Money” (1993), Woody Allen's “Celebrity” (1998), “Small Time Crooks” (2000) and “Hollywood Editing” (2002), and in the TV series “Frasier” and “Ugly Betty.”
Mizrahi is openly gay. He was once romantically connected to Douglas Keeve, the director of the 1995 documentary “Unzipped.” They are no longer together.
Childhood and Family:
Born on October 14, 1961, in Brooklyn, New York, Isaac Mizrahi was raised in a close knit Syrian Jewish community. He discovered a knack for designing when he was 13 years old and fostered his interest by designing and making clothes for his mother, Sarah Mizrahi, and her friends. Simultaneously, the creative teen developed a love for theater.
Isaac graduated from New York's High School of the Performing Arts in 1979. While in high school, he took night classes at the Parsons School of Design and graduated in 1983.
The Isaac Mizrahi Show
An accomplished fashion designer, Isaac Mizrahi served his apprenticeship under fashion designer Perry Ellis after graduating from fashion school. He continued to work with celebrated designers Calvin Klein and Jeffrey Banks before opening up his own clothing business in 1987. Within two years, he had received praise for his fall collection and took home the CFDA Perry Ellis Award for new fashion talent.
Mizrahi expanded by launching his first men's wear line in 1990. Later that same year, he was named CFDA Designer of the Year, an honor he again received in 1992. A lifelong theater fan, Mizrahi designed costumes for a Liza Minnelli stage show in 1991 called “Stepping Out.” The show was brought to television under the title “Liza Minnelli Live from Radio City Music Hall” in 1992 and Mizrahi was nominated for a 1993 Emmy in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program.
1993 saw Mizrahi attain a dream when he made his feature acting debut in “For Love or Money,” a comedy starring Michael J. Fox. In the movie, he played Julian Russell, a fashion designer. Two years later, his appearance in the 1995 documentary “Unzipped,” which was helmed by the then-lover Douglas Keeve, really captured the attention of audiences.
Mizrahi next designed the costumes for the stage play “The Santaland Diaries” (1996), which starred Timothy Olyphant. However, he had to endure a discouraging moment in 1998 when his financial sponsor, Chanel, withdrew its funding from his business. Consequently, his design empire collapsed and he went on to spend much of his time outside of the spotlight. During this period, he made a cameo appearance in the Woody Allen movie “Celebrity” and was an interviewee in the documentary “Beautopia,” which was directed and written by Katharina Otto (both 1998).
In 2000, Mizrahi returned to the limelight with “Les MIZrahi,” a cabaret show he wrote and starred in. He received primarily positive reviews for the show, for which he also designed the costumes and sets. The same year, he also made a guest appearance in the NBC hit comedy series “Frasier” and was reunited with Woody Allen in the film “Small Time Crooks.” He would work with Allen again in 2002's “Hollywood Editing,” in which he was cast as Elio Sebastian. The next year, Mizrahi created the costumes for the Roundabout Theater's revival of “The Women,” for which he won a 2002 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design.
Mizrahi displayed he was back in the saddle again when he was hired to star in his own show on the cable channel Oxygen. “The Isaac Mizrahi Show,” where he and a camera crew would frequently go with celebrities on different outings, debuted on September 19, 2001, and left the airwaves in 2003. In 2005, he began hosting “Isaac,” his daily talk show on the Style Network. The show ran for two seasons until 2006. Still in 2005, he also made a major comeback with the launching of a home collection at Target.
Well known for being flamboyant and regarded by some as impolite, Mizrahi worked for E! interviewing celebrities at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards. During the event, he acted inappropriate toward several celebrities and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences gave him words of warning.
Mizrahi next appeared as a fashion TV reporter in a 2006 episode of “Ugly Betty” called “Lose the Boss.” The same year, he could also be seen designing costumes for the Broadway revival “Barefoot in the Park” and an operetta titled “Threepenny Opera.” Two years later, he created the costumes for the Metropolitan Opera's production of “Orfeo ed Euridice.” He also served as a creative director for Liz Claiborne.
In January 2009, Mizrahi appeared in the documentary “Out in the City.” He is set to host the new Bravo series “The Fashion Show.”
Drama Desk: Outstanding Costume Design, “The Women,” 2002
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA): Designer of the Year, 1990, 1992
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA): The New Talent of the Year, 1989