BOOK SIGNING: THE ISAAC MIZRAHI PICTURES BY NICK WAPLINGTON
In his new book The Isaac Mizrahi Pictures: New York City 1989-1993, English photographer and artist Nick Waplington captures two worlds: the backstage, high-fashion glamour of designer Isaac Mizrahi’s fashion show fittings, and the gritty street-style of the New York 90’s “Club Kid” scene. Coming together for a conversation and book signing at the Rizzoli Bookstore, the two contrasting personalities—Mizrahi outspoken and flamboyant, Waplington quiet and seemingly uncomfortable in the spotlight—reminisced about the old days. Mizrahi teasingly referring to Waplington as “a pervert who liked being around the girls,” while Waplington recalled fondly how club-goers would try to buy drugs from him because their usual dealer smuggled his wares in the film compartment of his camera.
Before this work, Waplington had never done fashion photography, and he approached the assignment with the eye of a documentarian as opposed to a fashion-insider, which appealed to Mizrahi. Waplington would blend into the background in a way that allowed Mizrahi to work freely and even forget about him, which in turn allowed the photographer to capture unposed moments that bring the viewer into Mizrahi’s world. “Nick literally disappears,” Mizrahi said.
Mizrahi has been described as “having a moment,” as the book coincides with an exhibit of his work, Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History, at the Jewish Museum. But, he says, this was unplanned. Though the two had discussed the idea of a book in passing, Mizrahi thought Waplington had forgotten about the whole thing. “Then,” Mizrahi recalled, “three months ago [Nick] called and said, ‘you know, it’s really a good book.’” This was, apparently, the first time he realized Waplington had been working on it. Despite or perhaps because of this, Mizrahi says he likes the book better than something he would have “fussed over” himself. “Nick did a better job than I would have done. Well, at least as good of a job as I would have done. Maybe slightly less good than I would have done,” the designer joked.
“The Isaac Mizrahi Pictures: New York City 1989-1993” was published by Damiani on March 22, 2016. The Rizzoli Bookstore hosted a conversation with designer Isaac Mizrahi and photographer Nick Waplington on March 31. A selection of the images is also included in “Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History,” on view March 18 – June 26 at the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., New York, thejewishmuseum.org.