Erika Kawalek said she'll kick off her upcoming book "with a complete inventory of my closet, from underwear to World War II-era black taffeta cocktail dresses." No, it's not another entry in the annals of published introspection. "Ragpicker: The Secret History of a Wardrobe," expected be published by Riverhead in 2009, is a creative approach to fashion history: it will track the origins of eight items of clothing she owns — including a Sixties Warhol-inspired paper "Souper" dress, produced by Campbell's Soup, that Kawalek bought on eBay. "I was really interested in the sources of fashion," said Kawalek, who is the editor in chief of Isaac Mizrahi's semiannual magazine, Isaac's Style Book. "For me, it didn't begin with what's on the runway or the slides on Style.com.…There's a whole beautiful world of people who are working behind the scenes, keeping old clothes for future generations and inspiring a lot of designers, fabric designers and theater and film costumers." In tracing what she calls "the entire ecosystem of fashion," she plans to visit fast-fashion factories in China and couture salons in Paris.
As for the Mizrahi magazine, which has seen a rather muted reception since launching in August, Kawalek said two issues have been produced as planned, and a third is in the pipeline. — Irin Carmon
OUT OF THE CLOSET: Journalist