Isaac Mizrahi and photographer Nick Waplington met up Thursday night at Rizzoli’s New York store to talk about their backstage days. Paper magazine’s Mickey Boardman helped jog their memory before they signed copies of the lensman’s “Isaac Mizrahi Pictures: New York City 1989- 1993.”
The designer, who currently has an exhibition of his work on view at The Jewish Museum, said, “Nick was literally a fly on the wall, and that’s why he gets such unbelievable pictures. Nick can just really disappear. When he was around, you were never aware that he was taking pictures.”
In the cell phone-free early Nineties when Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista were among Mizrahi’s favorite models, “everyone would sit around and talk or Isaac would sing, or listen to music. There was this really nice interaction in the studio.” Waplington said. “I tried to be noninvasive and come out of my corner whenever it was time to take a picture. I am the anti-Terry Richardson and not part of the action., he said. “I just try to take pictures and disappear again. I don’t really like people talking to me when I’m working as well. I really try to keep myself to myself.”
That was also his strategy in shooting the downtown club scene when techno and house music was emerging in the early Nineties. Waplington said he appealed to DJ Junior Vasquez to help him get permission, since cameras were not allowed. Mizrahi explained that clubgoers then were frisked for cameras and guns before they were allowed in the door. “Well, things have changed since then,” Boardman said.
“I know, I know. I think there are too many pictures and too much music,” Mizrahi said. “There should be way less of all that and better quality.”
Three years ago Waplington mentioned the book project to Mizrahi but it was only three months ago that the designer said he learned it was official. “It was the first thing I ever didn’t worry about that I knew I would like more than something that I fussed over,” Mizrahi said. “[Deciding] on the size of the page, the printing…I knew he would do a much better job of that…slightly better job…as good a job as me.”
The Los Angeles-based Waplington also likes to take control, telling the crowd that his work is not available through any photo agencies. “My work is mine. When I’m putting it together, I’m creating the books or the shows myself. I wouldn’t think of doing it any other way,” he said.