18 Questions With Fashion Icon Isaac Mizrahi

by Stephanie Maida · September 8, 2017

Whether he's rubbing elbows with supermodels, judging aspiring designers on Project Runway, or letting it all hang out on stage, pop culture icon Isaac Mizrahi remains unapologetically himself. We mean, he is from Brooklyn.

While the seasoned designer has become a household name thanks to his fashion chops, Mizrahi has, of late, been honing his skills in another arena - cabaret. His show, "Does This Song Make Me Look Fat?" is saucy, self-deprecating, and smart as hell. Ahead of his nationwide tour and performance at City Winery in NYC this Friday, we decided to give him the ol' Proust Questionnaire treatment. 

If his answers made you laugh out loud, you can just imagine how funny Mizrahi is with a mic in his hand.

What's your best quality? My optimism. Even through all my self-doubt. I always end up seeing the bright side.

What's your worst? That I cannot stop eating.

What's your biggest fear? That I’ll lose my mind in public for no reason, like on an airplane or something. Shuddering at the thought.

What was your favorite song growing up? The movie soundtrack to Funny Girl. (Who’s gay?)

Who's the best person in New York? He now lives in London – Mike Bloomberg.

Who's the worst person in New York? The traffic cop who stopped me the other day for running a stop sign.

What do you look for in a friend? If people make me laugh, I’m more attracted to them. Also honestly, I’m so shallow - if they’re cute it’s a big part of the allure.

What was your first job? My first job in the fashion business was when I was 13. I got a job at one of Diane von Furstenberg’s licenses, a blouse company called Camicetta.

Who is your alter ego? My alter ego is Mark Morris. The artist Jennifer Bartlett once referred to us as Odette and Odile – the good and bad swans in Swan Lake. She was right. We’re the exact good/bad versions of each other.

What’s your biggest secret? I don’t have a lot of secrets - that’s my secret.

Who's your favorite fictional character? I love the character of Emperor Hadrian in Memoirs of Hadrian. I also love Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair.

What’s your favorite work of art? My favorite work of art changes a lot. I love Goya. I love Cezanne. I love Wayne Thiebaud. Right now my favorite work of art is something I bought from an artist named Holly Coulis. It’s a still life of pitchers and oranges from a gallery in New York City called Klaus von Nichtssagend.

What's the last great book you've read? Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates, which is a fictionalized version of Marilyn Monroe’s life. It’s an old book, which I just discovered.

Where was your best meal? The last surprising great thing I ate (other than all the food I eat because I’m really specific about food – I only eat things I like) was a seafood salad at a restaurant in New York City called Gotham. It’s a wonderful old place, which I used to go to in the 1980s and then forgot about. I recently went back and loved it. All the fishes were perfectly cooked and sauced and placed in the salad. It was heaven.

Sex or food? If I had to chose, probably food.

Singing or dancing? I’m a pretty good singer (come see my show at City Winery!), but if I could do anything, I would dance. I cannot dance because I have weird legs and a bad back and bad knees. But I imagine myself as a good dancer. I always said that if I were to come back as anything it would be a ballet dancer. I would be David Hallberg!

Netflix or night out? Nights out for me are part of my job, so when nothing is happening I will pick Netflix (after an early dinner at Il Cantinori, my favorite neighborhood restaurant).

What's the secret to your success? The secret to my success is that I haven’t succeeded yet.

[Photo by Jason Frank Rothenberg, via][Painting by Holly Coulis via]