Isaac Mizrahi: TOP TEN BOOKS

Isaac Mizrahi photographed by Jason Frank Rothenberg

It’s been 30 years since Isaac Mizrahi was anointed “hottest new designer” by the New York Times, a year after launching his eponymous line, and though his career has had highs and lows, the designer has retained a remarkable capacity for reinvention. He was a pioneer, in what is now a well-trodden path, in democratizing fashion by designing a collection for Target; since 2009 he has been a popular fixture on the home shopping channel QVC. An innate performer (as a child he impersonated Barbara Streisand and Judy Garland, and later studied drama at Manhattan’s Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts), he has molded himself into a celebrated wit as a judge on Project Runway: All Stars, and with a cabaret show he first performed at New York’s famed Café Carlyle in 2018, and repeated earlier this year. His acclaimed 1995 documentary, Unzipped, was widely hailed as the kind of insider’s view of fashion that Robert Altman’s Ready to Wear wanted to be. His candid new book, I.M., may do the same for fashion memoirs. Mizrahi describes it as “one or the two or three great accomplishments of my life.” Given his many achievements, that is saying something

Below are Isaac Mizrahi’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


Memoirs of Hadrian

Marguerite Yourcenar
Maybe the most rewarding gay love story of all time.
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The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann
To reread this would probably occupy me for the entire length of time I was stranded on the island, and I’d be compelled the entire time.
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The Elements of Style

William Strunk, Jr., Maira Kalman and E.B. White
Literary style is never more important to me than on a desert island, but more, the drawings, the correlations, the wit and color of this book would sustain me forever.
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 I, Claudius

Robert Graves
All those plot twists and intrigue. I could read and reread it on the desert island and never be bored.
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The Diaries of Dawn Powell: 1931-1965

Dawn Powell
Dawn Powell’s diaries would place me in NYC no matter how remote this desert island is. Images, ideas, perfectly parceled out, brief, heartbreaking observations, a kind of urbane wisdom, even if you don’t like her novels.
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The Innocents Abroad

Mark Twain
One hilarious, slightly embarrassing pleasure cruise to Europe and the Middle East, wickedly funny, capturing the American sensibility.
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The Rest Is Noise

Alex Ross
On this desert island I’m guessing there isn’t a boom box, so I’d take this book about the history of 20th century music in which Satie and Wagner are so beautifully described and placed in their own time, it’s as if you hear it playing.
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Dog Songs

Mary Oliver
I’d go to any desert island as long as there were dogs. And this book of poems.
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The Glass Of Fashion

Cecil Beaton
A necessary glimpse into a more elegant time.
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The Rings of Saturn

W.G. Sebald
The Rings of Saturn, (or any of Sebald’s books). One of the few books in which added pictures actually matter.
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