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March 29, 1993: Made In Manhattan

That year, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui and Isaac Mizrahi met for a dishy exchange about American fashion.

In 1993, the paper gathered five young designers — Anna Sui, Byron Lars, Isaac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham and Marc Jacobs — for a round-table conversation in the Fairchild offices. What began predictably enough with talk of American fashion, New York living and pricing soon turned into a dishy exchange touching upon everything from first ladies — “When you talked about Marie Antoinette or Nancy Reagan, it was too richesse — it wasn’t like a good steak and a baked potato [but] like filet mignon and a heavy sauce,” remarked Jacobs — to things they reject. Mizrahi: “Miami Beach, I reject. Or whatever that is — that sort of leathery skin with those trim sweaters and piña coladas.” Here, excerpts from that story, “Designer Dish,” from March 29, 1993.


On American fashion:

Mizrahi: “What is so attractive to me about living in New York is that, in America, you’re trained to be yourself. That’s the whole ethic, that’s the whole reason the Pilgrims came, to get away from the idea that in Paris or England or Italy you represent an archetype always. You know, if she’s a sporty woman, she’s damned to be that for the rest of her life. Or a jolie madame — she’s like that forever. She’s kept. And in America, you can be kept one minute.…”

Jacobs: “Or look kept.”

Mizrahi: “Or look unkept. It’s that idea that you can look whatever the hell you feel like looking like. It’s much more mercurial.”

Jacobs: “I hope it’s the future of the world — no labels anymore. And to bring it back to fashion, if you want to do one thing one season, that doesn’t mean you have to do it all your life. Supposedly, we have this freedom.”

Sui: [But] you don’t have that freedom because customers are looking for a specific thing from you. Every season you can push it a little more and try to change it in the direction you’re aiming for, but you can’t take it to the extreme.”

On nostalgia in fashion:

Sui: “We’re all into this nostalgia thing — our whole generation — and we’re incorporating that into our designs.”

Mizrahi: “What I’d like to know is: Is it us loving nostalgia, or is it just the classical thing? The Seventies are basically a revival of the Thirties, the Forties were a revival of — I don’t know what the hell it was a revival of.”

Jacobs: “Those first ties [Ralph Lauren] made or jackets for men were not Seventies’ fashion, they were reminiscent of a Thirties Great Gatsby. These things keep reoccurring because you attach a romance to something that you missed or you can’t quite reach. Ralph Lauren created a world that he was excluded from.”

On where they see themselves in 2000:

Oldham: “I never think that far ahead.”

Lars: “If the opportunity comes up where I can grow, I’m definitely going to explore it. I’m not one of those designers who says, ‘I’m happy just making beautiful things that make me happy.’ Quite frankly, I’d be happy within myself to do that, but I don’t think I could justify it.”

Sui: I think I’m not going to be in the fashion business at that point. Who knows what I’ll be doing? Maybe I’ll be selling the things I collected in the flea market and all the old collections that I’ve saved. What I enjoy about what I’m doing now is that cutting-edge thing, and I don’t know if it will be possible that far down the line. I’ll probably grow up a little.”

Oldham: “Let me know when you get your flea market. I think we could get quite a booth going together.”

Sui: “We can take over another parking lot. That’s what’s going to support me in my old age, all the junk that I collect.”

Jacobs: “I never really think about the future. I really don’t. I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow. I have daily goals, not long term. I like designing clothes right now, so if I like it tomorrow, I’ll wake up and go to work, otherwise figure something else out.”

Mizrahi: “A theme park or something.”

Oldham: “Isaacwood.”

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