Fashion and fun with irreverent Isaac Mizrahi

December 05, 2005|By TANIKA WHITE | TANIKA WHITE,SUN REPORTER

It's like Cosmo in 3-D and InStyle coming to life in your living room.

Watching award-winning fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi's new talk show - debuting tonight at 7 on the Style Network - is like watching your favorite fashion magazine unfold on television.

Those great round-toe shoes you've been looking for? See them on screen - on a real, live fashionista - and get Isaac's opinion about them, too. That burning style question you wanted to write and ask a fashion editor? Isaac answers it right there in his design studio - on camera and off-the-cuff.

The hourlong mix of celebrity interviews, fashion, cuisine, home design, pop culture and Mizrahi's own bold and bawdy take on life is just the latest step in the famed fashion designer's recent mad dash to the height of his game.

"Isaac's definitely back on top, and his star is brighter than ever in Hollywood and in fashion," says Kelli Delaney, editor-in-chief of Celebrity Living magazine. "I think he could be the male Ellen [DeGeneres]."

A fashion-lover's household name in the early-to-mid-'90s, Mizrahi dipped off the everyday woman's radar screen until 2003, when he partnered a groundbreaking deal with Target stores to launch a collection of affordable designer clothes and accessories bearing his name - while maintaining a couture line at New York's storied Bergdorf Goodman .

And now Mizrahi can add another notch to his fine leather belt: his talk/variety show ISAAC - where the ever-morphing icon can show off his myriad, people-pleasing talents.

"Isaac has always dreamt of merging fashion with entertainment," says Marisa Gardini, executive producer of the show and CEO and partner of Isaac Mizrahi's company. Mizrahi went to both the Parsons School of Design and a performing arts high school, Gardini says, "so he is able to combine his incredible designing talents with his training as an entertainer and actor. He's very entertaining."

The premiere episode, for example, shows a chicly suited but bare-ankled Mizrahi teaching actress Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice) how to walk gracefully in high heels. "Listen to mama," he tells the giggling beauty, as he struts in his sneakers.

It also shows him preparing a dish with celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito and dishing with Dannielle Romano, editor-at-large of DailyCandy.com, about how to get over a bad breakup. (Sugar-free ice cream, shopping sprees and sexy lingerie, in case you were wondering.)

What saves Mizrahi's newest venture from falling into the tired celebrity-turned-talk-show-host trend is the designer's natural blend of talented artist and real human being.

There he is inspecting clothes hanging in his design studio. And there he is again, calling someone's cheating ex-boyfriend a "piece of trash." It's great.

A highlight of the design aspect of the show is "sketches and answers," when Mizrahi answers audience questions (about fashion and other topics) by sketching his thoughts out on paper.

Willie Hall was one of the privileged few who got to have Mizrahi freehand an answer to her design question during a recent show.

"My husband is a big man; he's 6-2. So I asked him what color and what cut to use to slim him down," says Hall, a fashion design student at the Art Institute of New York City. "He started sketching and it was like, `OK, he knows what he's talking about.'"

That insider's peek into the mind of a famous fashion designer is a draw all by itself. But Mizrahi is not just talented artistically. He also is engaging and frank, his hedonistic sense of humor refreshing.

On his show, for example, he jokingly advocates "boozing it up," sips double decaf macchiatos with one leg tucked under the other, chats with "everyday people" on New York's busy streets and confesses his desire to plant a smooch on Hollywood hottie Orlando Bloom.

"He is so amazing, so hysterical, so smart, so clever, so quick," says Mally Roncal, celebrity makeup artist to such names as Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Ashlee Simpson. "You've got to be on your toes when you're with this one. He will literally throw you for a loop, and you just have to be ready to catch it."

During a taping of a makeup segment designed to teach women how to minimize wrinkles, create the illusion of cheekbones and plump up their lips, Roncal says, Mizrahi had a characteristic fashion-ADD moment and suddenly demanded the cameras pan down to her ultra-stylish shoes.

"He has this amazing, innate sense of style," Roncal says. "It's impossible not to notice and not to want to be around him."

tanika.white@baltsun.com

Fashion talk

ISAAC, an hourlong fashion and celebrity-filled variety/talk show, will debut tonight at 7 on the Style Network.

Tonight's guests are actress Keira Knightley, celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito and DailyCandy.com's Editor-At-Large Dannielle Romano. Mizrahi also visits with music and movie star Dolly Parton.

Future guests include Mandy Moore, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Elle MacPherson, Andie MacDowell, Sela Ward and Selma Blair.

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