20 Years Since Unzipped: 28 Ways the Fashion Industry Has Change...
It's been 20 years since Isaac Mizrahi showed fall 1994 at New York Fashion Week—a now-legendary catwalk spectacular featuring nearly every '90s supermodel you can name. Mizrahi's critically acclaimed collection that season, and the six-month run-up to its public unveil, became the subject of the seminal 1995 fashion documentary Unzipped—now the gold standard of fashion films and one that perfectly captures one of the most vibrant and important moments in time in the New York fashion industry.
On the 20th anniversary of Isaac Mizrahi's fall 1994 collection, let's take a look back at how the fashion industry has changed in two decades. Here are 28 ways fashion and Fashion Week have changed—from the Unzipped heyday.
1. New York Fashion Week moved to Lincoln Center. When Isaac Mizrahi showed his fall 1994 collection, it was only the second season NYFW was held at the tents at Bryant Park. Fashion Week relocated uptown to Lincoln Center in fall 2010.
2. Isaac Mizrahi no longer shows at New York Fashion Week. The designer's final show, for spring 2012, took place on September 15, 2011.
3. There wasn't really Internet in 1994. So designers had to trek to newsstands in order to read their reviews the next day. The opening scene of Unzipped shows Mizrahi visiting a newsstand on 11th Street and Sixth Avenue to read his show review in WWD. These days, you don't need to leave your house to find out what the critics thought of your collection, but that newsstand on Sixth Avenue? Still there.
4. Sandra Bernhard sang the movie's theme song. If you grew up in the '80s and '90s, you are probably well familiar with Sandra Bernhard, one of the most famous and outspoken comedians at the time.
5. Everything happened in the atelier, or, at least, more locally. Before the Internet, designers did almost everything locally, preshow. In Unzipped, you see the process from start to finish—from Mizrahi's Nanook of the North inspiration moment to sketches to sample cutting and production in the atelier. These days? Technical drawings can be zapped to China in a matter of seconds and samples can be produced overseas and shipped back and forth overnight.
6. Model rate was $750+ an hour. A model agent once explained to me that supermodels were big in the late '80s and early '90s, but that was because Eastern Europe and Russia hadn't really opened up yet. After the fall of the USSR and Iron Curtain, lots of new models started to flood the international market—girls who were willing to work for a lot less than Linda Evangelista's notorious $10,000 a day.
7. Amber Valletta wasn't super famous yet. One of the most exciting firsts in Unzipped is seeing now-supe Amber Valletta at one of her first castings at New York Fashion Week. She's wearing a white V-neck tee and jeans. See the moment she meets Mizrahi at 1:30:
8. Thing that has not changed: Eskimo is still a dirty word. "Eskimo means fish-eater," Shalom Harlow solemnly tells the camera. "It means fish eater, raw fish eater."9. Other thing that has not changed: Women still don't want to look like cows. "It's about women not wanting to look like cows, I guess." But, yes, I agree, faux-fur pants would be spectacular right now—especially with the winter we're having. Also, love the idea of Hush Puppy boots, but now we have Uggs.
19. Everybody smoked. Back in the '90s, everyone in fashion smoked. Unzipped shows Mizrahi smoking, and models like Carla Bruni—who later went on to become first lady of France—smoking during a fitting.
22. Models Inc. no longer exists. Models Inc. was a short-lived mid-'90s soap opera about models. Cindy Crawford and Mizrahi discuss this while fake-shooting in his studio.
26. Models used to walk differently. These days, your run-of-the-mill catwalk model just walks to the end of the runway, pauses briefly, and walks back. Back in the '90s, the standard supermodel walk included at least one-and-a-half spins (maybe a leg-kick) at the end of the runway and a pause somewhere in the middle en route back.