Designer and TV celebrity Isaac Mizrahi offers a look back on his life so far—from growing up gay in a sheltered Syrian Jewish Orthodox family to running in the same celebrity circles as Audrey Hepburn and Anna Wintour.
His wonderfully introspective new memoir, I.M., makes clear that Mizrahi is still the same creative force of nature, just polished down and with more years under his well-crafted belt ... I.M. is as generous a memoir as I can remember. Mizrahi lays bare his struggles with body image, insomnia and relationships. He meditates on the fickle nature of the fashion industry and spills a little tea on his many celebrity friends. The book is like a classic Mizrahi design: joyful, colorful and always with a twist of the unexpected.
Here, in warm, witty and conversational prose, [Mizrahi] shares the trials of growing up in a Syrian-Jewish community in Midwood, Brooklyn, and shows us how he forged his way out to become a widely known name in the world of fashion ... While not as deeply resonating as the earlier parts of the book — it sometimes feels like Mizrahi is heeding an internal obligation to credit the many people who helped pave his path to success — [Mizrahi] does share some trenchant memories of friendships he has had across his career ... [Several passages] in I.M., [are] heart-rending, showing us how vulnerability and self-doubt mingle with the glam and glitterati of the fashion world ... Fashionistas lured to Mizrahi’s memoir hoping it reveals juicy background on the industry may be disappointed by its lack of dish. Yet I.M. more than makes up for that with its honest rendering of how the underdog Mizrahi, whose self-image and livelihood are alternately crushed and affirmed, moves through the many creative phases of his life.
Reading the cleverly titled I.M. (how deliriously fortunate, to go through life with those initials!) feels like sitting with the designer while he is in a salon chair, unspooling. For some, it might seem tedious to be the ear he practically gnaws off as he ping-pongs between memories ... But for those readers who turn to celebrity memoir for exactly this sort of breathless dish, who love a gossip column with a central character, who want to be rocketed into inaccessible inner sanctums by a denizen telling tales out of school, I.M. will land not with a thud but with a satisfying squish, a gooey hunk of cake with more than enough frosting to go around ... I.M. is a surprisingly literary work ... I.M. is a playful read, with just enough spumy effervescence to give it the texture of a bobbinet tutu. And yet there is a weight to it, a few heavy paillettes to keep the structure in place ... His book is all smooth seams, which can elicit a distinct pleasure. I do miss the ragged hems.