NEW YORK — Don’t call Isaac Mizrahi’s new 1,500-square-foot boutique at 23 East 67th Street here a store. Rather, refer to it as a shop, the first in the designer’s 25-year career.
“I’m afraid to call it a store because that immediately makes you think about sales expectations,” said Mizrahi, declining to give a volume projection. “It’s more of an opportunity to show the collection and service the customer. I’m trying to get across the fact that clothing is a product of the creative process.”
Mizrahi said commitment issues prevented him from becoming a retailer sooner.
“Most designers are really good at retail,” said Mizrahi, eating lunch at a wrought iron table in the shop. “I always thought, ‘That’s not my job.’ This shop is me committing to retail. I went to my psychic last fall when everyone was going crazy [because of the recession]. The psychic said, ‘Darling, you must go out there and be proactive. I see a shop…’”
The space looks like a design studio, with dozens of Mizrahi’s sketches hanging on the wall, wallpaper tables displaying sweaters and chairs covered in Day Glo-colored fabric. There’s no cash wrap in sight — it’s hidden behind a white plastic sliding door.
Mizrahi used humble materials such as shelves made of plywood sandwiched between two layers of Lucite. The juxtaposition of a patch of indoor-outdoor carpet in the shoe salon makes the mink slides look all the more luxurious. Rolling racks speak to Mizrahi’s fear of commitment.
Behind a beige curtain at the back is the couture room, where prices start at $6,000 for a pre-couture dress. The space, which is dominated by a 50-by-90-foot mirror, looks like a sparsely furnished artist’s garret with arched windows looking out onto a bleak patio that Mizrahi promises to landscape.
“There’s a demand for [made to order],” Mizrahi said, adding the ready-to-wear collection, Isaac Mizrahi New York, is “growing in a very strategic manner. We’ve worked very hard on our prices and put in so much value…there’s no price resistance.”
Prices for shoes range from $700 to $1,200; handbags, $950 to $1,150; a beige embroidered jaquard dress is $2,600, and a cranberry coat with dyed fox collar, $8,800.
Seeing his clothing, shoes and handbags under the same roof has inspired Mizrahi. “It makes me do more things,” he said. “I do all categories. I make these amazing home furnishings and will now make pillows. I had a very successful home business at Target.” Isaac Mizrahi for Target launched in 2003 and was sold at the mass chain until 2008.
Not only is Mizrahi a mix master of high and low, he’s also a multitasker. His first collection as creative director of Liz Claiborne was introduced at retail last March. Other endeavors include judging “The Fashion Show” on Bravo, and in December hawking everything from shoes to cheesecake on QVC. Mizrahi politely declined to discuss his other projects. At the moment, he has his high-end hat on.
“We thought about a lot of other locations like the West Village, the Meatpacking District and SoHo,” he said. “This made more sense. “This will really help our Bergdorf Goodman business very positively. And a lot of my ladies already live up here.”