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IMG_20191203_130459My favorite part of the holiday season is that quiet time between Christmas and New Year’s when most of the rush is OVER. When we finally have a chance to stop, stay home, and relax. This is the best time to curl up with a pile of books.

And what’s a better gift for Christmas (Dec. 25), Hanukkah (Dec. 22- Dec. 30), Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) than a book?

On my fashion book recommendation list is IM: A Memoir (Flatiron Books) by fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi. I devour fashion stories and Mizrahi’s is a good one. He was part of the generation that landed in NYC in the early 80s when the city was edgy but real and making it there without buckets of money was still possible.

I read IM while visiting Manhattan and it was a kick to be walking past some of Mizrahi’s references –  like Macy’s on W. 34th Street across from which was his father’s office (he manufactured children’s clothing) or M&J Trimming on W. 38th Ave.,  (touted to be the best trim shop in Manhattan).

IM is a complete memoir starting with Mizrahi’s childhood in Brooklyn. His family was part of the Syrian Jewish community. With two older sisters and a fashionista mother, our hero was all about style from a young age. But he struggled as an overweight kid who liked Broadway tunes and spent his time making puppets and perfecting his impersonation of Barbra Streisand. He was an outsider at school, in his community, and at home. But he had a close relationship with his mother and even though he was unhappy, on some level it seemed that he accepted and even embraced his quirkiness.

I found the early part of this memoir fascinating, especially the section when Mizrahi attends School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. The same school featured in the 1980 film, Fame.  In fact Mizrahi auditioned for the gay character, Montgomery, which went to Paul McCrane. But he was in the film as part of a montage. It’s little tidbits like this that make IM a fun read.

Although Mizrahi initially wanted to become a performer, he was also drawn to fashion and he began to sell his designs at age 15 while still in high school. That pretty much set his fate, at least for a while.

In IM we get a peek at the fashion industry, how it worked back then and some behind-the scene descriptions. There’s a lot of name dropping and talk about Mizrahi’s friendships with the likes of Liza Minneli and Anna Wintour (both at one time pretty close with Mizrahi but the friendships didn’t stand the test of time). Well-written (ghost written?) and detailed, the narration doesn’t get in its own way. I was disappointed that there are no photos and I thought his work with QVC deserved more than a mention. I was interested to know how that came about.  Target, however, does get a chapter.

There is much to say about this book but I have holiday chores to get to! I’ll wrap it up by saying IM, A Memoir by Isaac Mizrahi is a good choice for you, my fashionable readers, and/or any fashionable on your holiday list.

 

 

 

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(This was originally posted on May 20th, 2015. Let’s revisit!)

Have you ever wondered who made that T-shirt you’re sporting? Jacket? Jeans? Until recently I hadn’t, nor had the film director Andrew Morgan. Then in 2013, Mr. Morgan was reading in the New York Times about the Bangladesh factory collapse in Rana Plaza. Shocked and horrified to learn of the conditions those factory workers (and many others) endure, he began to ask some basic questions: Who makes my clothes? What are their lives like? Are they better off?

In his new film, The True Cost Mr. Morgan helps answer these questions by traveling the world and talking to people in the industry from designers such as Stella McCartney to workers in far away factories. He interviews professionals about the business of fashion, globalization, consumerism and the toll all of this must-have fashion is taking on our planet and the people who make our clothes.

Mr. Morgan insists that his film is not a guilt trip but an opportunity to “… open our eyes and hearts to this idea that there are hands, physical human hands that touch the things that we wear and those hands are lives and they matter …”

Click here to watch the trailer. (It just might change your approach to fashion.)

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I will miss the paper WWD.

I will miss the paper WWD.

I recently received an announcement from Women’s Wear Daily – they are giving up print. WWD, the insiders must-have fashion business paper since 1910, will post an electronic version of the paper. Here’s what they’re saying: Starting with the April 27th issue, we’ll produce a curated Daily Digital edition of WWD that will reflect the top stories of the day. This will be emailed to you in digital format before you wake up each business day.

Additionally the publishers (Fairchild Publishing, LLC) will mail out a weekly glossy print, which they claim will provide more detailed analysis of top fashion stories.

I have mixed feelings about this. Admittedly, it will be a relief not to have stacks of backed-up issues resting on my dining table, taunting me at every meal. But I will certainly miss my weekend routine of sitting down with a cup of coffee and diving in – searching for quotes, cutting clips, and following the swings of the fashion industry. I prefer paper to screen and I’m pretty sure I won’t read as closely this new e-version, particularly if it’s as visually busy as the WWD website.

Plus, it does feel like the end of an era.

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