Hello, Liz Claiborne cash! Bye-bye, show-in-the-showroom! Hello, fancy Eliasson-inspired lighting at the Hammerstein Ballroom!


Change is afoot at Isaac Mizrahi, and not just because the proletarian half of his high-low mix has shifted from Target to the apparently more generous (if his fashion shows are an indication) Claiborne. Mizrahi still has a soft spot for Fifties- and Sixties-type propriety, at least when it comes to clothes. And he still loves to work a collection around a quirky theme, as he did for spring. Called “Swarm,” the show featured looks with such buggy names as “dung beetle trench,” “sugar beetle suit” and “glitterpillar.” But Mizrahi is no longer the kitschy kid of yore. These days, he’s older and, if not exactly more sober, then more judicious in putting his celebratory tendencies on the runway.


His collection was the better for it. Mizrahi packed it with his signatures — baggy pants, obi wraps, day-evening mixes and color, color, color — now delivered with a slickness and control that felt like serious fashion and, for the most part, new. (As for the theme, happily, it was more about the changing light and shimmery sequins than anything else.) He made corsetry pretty rather than severe, countered obvious structure with light-as-air paillettes for dresses and a perky pink suit and dared to juice up familiar shapes with asymmetric flourish. And if he had a slip or two along the way — bicycle shorts under hostess frocks, Isaac? — he more than made up for them with an overall mood of polished pizzazz.   

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