There are countless supermodels (Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss) and A-list actors (Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman) who’ve looked even better because of Isaac Mizrahi. For nearly three decades, he’s built an empire that includes his famed Isaac Mizrahi New York imprint and Isaac Mizrahi Live!, his line for QVC. Along the way, he’s picked up a pair of CFDA awards for Designer of the Year and was famously the subject of 1995’s Unzipped, a fly-on-the-wall film that changed the documentary landscape. So why, in this video inspired by “HSBC’s Thank You films”, is the style-great paying homage to Sandra Kazan, his high-school drama teacher?
Most people don’t realize that before he became infatuated with clothes, the shy teen was obsessed with theater. (You can even see a young Mizrahi, who attended Manhattan’s Performing Arts High School, as an extra in the 1980 movie Fame.) Kazan was herself a budding actress—starring opposite Al Pacino in the Oscar-winning Dog Day Afternoon. And it is she who gets credit, explains Mizrahi, “for teaching me about acting, but more, teaching me how to act”—how to express himself, how to trust his instincts, how to be brave.
Back in the day, Kazan’s impact on Mizrahi could be seen in his theatrical runway shows; today, it’s in his extracurricular work as a costumer for Broadway shows and operas. While he doesn’t see Kazan, who continues to act, very often, there was always one thing Mizrahi had meant to tell her. Watch as he recalls how his time with Kazan continues to affect his life.