Isaac and the air show






By Michelle Crowe



Isaac Mizrahi at The Peninsula.


The high/low mix. It’s something many of us proudly embrace these days, lining up early for H&M collaborations with European designers. Once upon a time though, in the days of Nokia phones and colorful iMacs, it wasn’t quite as common to flaunt a fab yet frugal find.


Around the table with Isaac, Lawrence Libunao and Jim Wetzel.


One man, the delightful Isaac Mizrahi, took a chance in the early 2000s – 2003 to be exact– and designed the first capsule collection for Target. It included everything from the perfect denim pencil skirt to lacquered trays. I still have and regularly use two of those trays.


Naomi Campell walks in Isaac’s most famous show, Fall 1994.


People said it was risky. They invoked the ghost of Halston and how his brand was gutted by a bad licensing deal with JC Penney. These same people bought everything. Years later they also bought everything in the Missoni collection and this year they bought everything in the Hunter collection.


Was it something we said?


Isaac came to Chicago to launch the collection with a fashion show at Navy Pier. It was Air & Water Show weekend and watching this quintessentially American designer present his signature cheerful take on sportswear while the Blue Angels flew in formation was almost meta in the moment.

I had the chance to chat with Isaac and my other favorite fashion men, Jim Wetzel of Space 519, and Lawrence Libunao of Tory Burch, over lunch at The Peninsula before heading over to watch him pluck a diverse cast of women from the crowd to walk the runway.


Jim and I listen closely.


It remains one of the most candid, engaging and enjoyable chats I’ve ever had, although it started out bumpy for at least two of us.

Isaac was traveling from New York, which was just emerging from a three-day blackout. I’d spent the morning frantically calling photographers after the woman who was supposed to be there cancelled in a particularly unkind and unpleasant way.

Isaac’s book is filled with helpful advice.


Yet once the ice tea was poured, all the worry melted away. And every single person at that table is a brilliant example of enduring style.

As the Air & Water show approaches, with their window-shattering practices this week, it feels like the right time to remember this moment with photos stored on my computer because they’re from a time before Instagram.


Happy fashion friends, Jim, Michelle and Lawrence


p.s. Isaac will be at City Winery on October 19. Catch his show. He’s brilliant.


Photo Credit:

Joan Hackett