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Unzipped movie 1995 Isaac Mirzahi
Unzipped (1995)

3 reasons you need to see cult 90s fashion doc Unzipped

The iconic film charts every high, low, laugh, and breakdown in the lead up to Isaac Mizrahi’s AW94 show, with appearances from a young John Galliano, the OG supers, and more

Over the course of the last few years, with a little help from your fave streaming services, fashion documentaries have become a staple of watch-lists everywhere. From the intense lead up to Raf Simons’ first Haute Couture collection for Dior in Dior & I and the enlightening insight into American Vogue’s inner-workings that The September Issue offers, to the uplifting story of Iris and the emotional tribute to late designer Lee ‘Alexander’ McQueen – fashion films have documented some of the most unforgettable moments in the industry’s history. 

While it’s highly likely you’ll have seen at least one among that list, a doc that you might not be quite so familiar with is 1995 cult classic Unzipped, which documents the process behind Isaac Mizrahi’s AW94 collection, following a season which drew in some pretty negative press for the NY designer. 

Shot by his at-the-time boyfriend Douglas Keeve in gritty black-and-white that comes to life with scattered explosions of colour, the film takes an intimate look at what it takes to be a fashion designer – and is packed with just as much personality as there is pre-show breakdowns and tears. Ending with one iconic runway show and highlighting every important high and low in the lead up, the documentary opened the doors of the industry to its viewers before they were able to see it through Instagram stories. 

Just in case you needed some new fashion inspiration or are just fed up with endlessly scrolling through coronavirus memes on Twitter, here are three reasons why you should add Unzipped to your watch list immediately.


For his AW94 collection, Mizrahi decided to throw aside the rule book and reveal some of the best-kept secrets of the industry – through a sheer screen behind the runway, what’s normally concealed backstage was opened up to the audience, as models were seen getting dressed in front of racks of clothing before making their way out onto the runway. Sounds familiar? This AW20 season at Gucci, Alessandro Michele took inspo from the cult film. Breaking the traditional fashion show code and taking over the TL with a revolving glass stage, the show began with atelier workers helping models change from white robes into the season’s looks. Later, when models exited the stage for their final walk, the workers presented themselves to the audience. The show was a celebration of all the unseen work that goes into creating a fashion collection and a statement on transparency, which also paid homage to Mizrahi in the process.


Before there was Kaia Gerber and the Hadid sisters lived the OG supermodels. Lucky for us, Unzipped came straight from the height of the 90s, and featured some of the most legendary of them all – Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Carla Bruni, Kate Moss, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, and Shalom Harlow – who all walked in Mizrahi’s show dressed in sparkling slip dresses, bright baby-doll cardigans, and faux fur bucket hats. As well as the fashion show itself, the film also offers a behind-the-scenes look at their lives off the runway – whether it’s Mizrahi joking about Campbell’s engagement ring, the models being asked to change into their  looks in front of the show’s audience, or just having a laugh with each other backstage. “Isaac, why do you always give me the flat shoes and you always give Naomi Campbell the high heels? Every single time!” Evangelista teases Mizrahi pre-show. Elsewhere, the film showcases some of the biggest names in fashion at the time, as Mizrahi is seen at an underground late night Parisian tarot card reading with John Galliano and André Leon Talley (casual).


...Or maybe you did? While creating a runway collection proves to be a stressful experience, Mizrahi, amusingly enough, does so while providing endless one-liners, impersonations, and enthusiastic witty retorts. The film follows Mizrahi’s infatuation with children’s book Nanook of the North – resulting in a dynamic back and forth with himself over whether or not to include faux fur. “The thing is, all I want to do is fur pants, but I know that if I do them I’ll get stoned off of 7th Avenue,” he muses. “It’s about women not wanting to look like cows I guess… when in fact, there’s something very charming about cows.” Other moments include an impersonation of Bette Davis from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? mixed with his Parsons tutor, and a story in which he explains he drew inspiration for his collection from his adventures with an Ouija board. “It said, ‘Sexy,’ and I was like, ‘Thank god!’” said Mizrahi. “It’s like, ‘Dominatrix mixed with Hitchcock.’” Elsewhere, a harrassed Mizrahi states, “I don’t know what they think I am made of… Where are those chips?” and if that doesn’t sum up our quarantine day eleven mood, then IDK what will.