A forthcoming autobiography has Isaac Mizrahi in an introspective mood.
During a talk with James Whiteside, principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, at an “Icons and Innovators” event hosted by WNYC, the designer-turned cabaret star and costumer for dance and opera said fashion wasn’t something he decided to leave, but something that “dropped away.”
“I don’t know where I got this idea that feelings never lie — to know that your feelings don’t lie and if you’re not lying, there’s nothing wrong,” Mizrahi said. “It just wasn’t my moment anymore and I felt wrong doing [fashion], either because what I was doing was irrelevant or trying to do what other people were doing just to be cool. Which is what other designers seem to do a lot of and it’s not so great to me.”
Mizrahi added that he began feeling while preparing runway collections that “I was just bugging women” and, while he did and still does love clothing and fashion in a broad sense, when it came to how people looked, “I didn’t really care that much and I’m kind of embarrassed that people thought I did for all those years.”
“I couldn’t help it,” Mizrahi said of losing interest in the day-to-day of fashion design. “I stopped thinking that way and so it became harder and harder to focus because it really takes such a big part of you to do that.”
Beyond his interest in music and dance, things that may have fueled a waning interest in the industry were the growing number of fashion shows each season (reaching such that Mizrahi said he “actually started to feel bad for the fashion press”) and the simple fact that he aged out of it.
“You know, when you stop going out until three in the morning, you have no relevance.”
As for the memoir he’s working on, Mizrahi didn’t speak of any explicit themes or incidents that will be in the book and there’s no release date, but he mentioned how different his experience coming out as a gay man was from those he hears about today, and spoke fondly of the writing process.
“I feel more and more when I write that I get to this crazy place of honesty, not that it’s going to get published that way,” he added.
Honesty is something that’s become increasingly important for Whiteside as well, who said he feels an “overwhelming obligation” to be unapologetic about his sexuality and his art, both in and outside the world of ballet, with the current range of conservative ideologies inside the White House.
Whiteside also alluded to “issues” he’s had even inside the exceedingly artistic world of ballet related to his life outside work, which in addition to being openly gay includes regular dance and pop performances in drag.
After saying that he simply couldn’t speak in detail about instances with “certain individuals” at the ABT because “I don’t want to get fired,” Whiteside said he has every intention of living his life as he wishes.
“I am very, very unapologetic in what I do on- and off-stage because it’s much easier to be honest than to be caught lying,” Whiteside said. “Yes, I’ve had issues [with the ABT], but nothing I can’t deal with in a civilized manner.”
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