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by Natasha Theobald

"Naked in New York"
3 stars

I don't know when exactly Isaac Mizrahi got his TV show or whether it had anything to do with this film, but it is apparent from the very first that he is completely comfortable, effortlessly himself, in front of the camera. It is that which gives this documentary about something as fluffy as fashion the spark it needs to be about something slightly more, the work of the artist ensconced in the life of the man.

The film follows Mizrahi from his reading of negative reviews for his spring line, through designing and showing his fall line, coming full circle to that line's reviews. Along the way we meet his proud mother, various celebrities like Sandra Bernhard and Eartha Kitt, countless models, and various fashion industry people from the top down. Stories are recounted from Isaac's earliest fashion influences. His mother is pleasantly shocked to learn the great attention to detail he paid with her wardrobe, even as a tot.

Film buffs will be pleased at the amount of influence the cinema and popular culture through film and television seem to have on Mizrahi's work. From Mary Tyler Moore to "Nanook of the North," Isaac draws on countless sources, not only in his work but in his life. For example, he designed his own home to look like the rooms of a movie character he has always admired. It is these simple details that broaden the interest in him from those who merely care about fashion to those who care about other theatrical pursuits. The documentarian does a great job, too, of placing footage of the various films and shows which pop into Isaac's mind, giving picture to his thoughts and making them real for the audience.

While containing comic moments and an interesting inner dialogue made external, via Mizrahi's stream of thoughts given his voice, the film also contains flashes of drama. A pall falls over the proceedings when Isaac learns that another designer also has chosen the Eskimo look for his inspiration. It is too late to make changes, so they must hope that the lines will differ enough. There are countless conversations about over-scheduling and fabrics that can't be made in time. Then, there is a flurry of activity during the fashion show itself and the tension created in trying to gauge the audience reaction and what that might spell in terms of the success or failure of the effort. While it is not a matter of life and death, as we have come to know Isaac Mizrahi throughout the film, we have also come to care about him and want good things to happen for him.

I'm not sure what led Mizrahi to stop designing fashion lines. I do know he continues to work with it in some respects, for theater and such. I am glad he has found a niche in front of the camera. He has an interesting voice and point of view. He is engaging and entertaining without even trying. It seems a little weird to go back and look at this first foray so many years later, but it still holds up as an example of the process of creation.

An interest in fashion is not required to enjoy this film. People watchers will find plenty to observe in the world that revolves around Isaac Mizrahi, and that is what documentaries are ultimately about.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2478&reviewer=317
originally posted: 10/13/03 16:35:21
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User Comments

8/01/05 tatum As interesting as you suspect 2 stars
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  11-Aug-1995 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jan-2004



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