Isaac Mizrahi Dresses Minds as Well as Bodies

The Daily Pic: At the Jewish Museum, Mizrahi dives below fashion's surfaces.

THE DAILY PIC (#1576): In case yesterday’s Pic on Roberto Burle Marx prompts some New York readers to head to the city’s Jewish Museum, today’s will give them another reason to go: The JewMu’s exhibition of the American designer Isaac Mizrahi is an exemplary fashion display. The clothes are presented with all the respect you’d give to works of fine art, without any of the silly glitz that attends most fashion shows in museums.

And Mizrahi deserves the respect. Most cutting-edge fashion of the last few decades is built on ideas that have not been sharp for years: Lazy Surrealism and postwar formalism are still the go-to modes, plus a big dose of nostalgic eclecticism.

Whereas when Mizrahi is at his very best (which admittedly isn’t always), he combines wit and real conceptual and social heft. The ball gown at left, from 1998, imagines that a gala-goer might have the same maternal duties and desires as anyone in the supermarket. The one at right, from 2005, is an imitation, in silk, of the padding that you find in elevators and trucks on moving day.

Sure, it no doubt cost as much as most movers make in a bunch of months. But at least it acknowledges their efforts, and makes clear that the gown’s owner depends on them to get her vast wardrobe from points A to B. (Photos © Jason Frank Rothenberg)

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