Highly Documented Fall 1991 Isaac Mizrahi Custom Native American Inspired Beaded Sheepskin Coat
Isaac Mizrahi presented his first collection through a trunk show at Bergdorf Goodman's in 1987. By 1992 Chanel had bought a stake in the company and Isaac's name was everywhere. He was doing custom work for clients and Hollywood on top of his mainline. In 1995 Isaac was the subject of the movie 'Unzipped' based on his Fall 1994 collection. He is known as much for his personality as he was for his clothing. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) recognized him with the Perry Ellis Award (now called the Swarovski Emerging Talent Award) in 1988 and the women's wear designer of the year award in 1989. He loved to experiment and would often change his aesthetics from season to season which was his ultimate downfall. After the fall 1998 show Chanel pulled its stake and the company folded. He did have a couple of subsequent come back attempts, but for collectors these early years are the most important pieces to find.
This particular coat is very special. It's near twin was a highlight of the "Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History" exhibit in 2016 and a version was featured in Town and Country that Year. We also have a copy of the original sketch included here. My client had this one custom made for herself that year and worked one on one with Issac on it. Isaac was only 30 years old at the time of this collection and he was the hottest ticket in town. This jacket in all its versions was dubbed the 'Tee Pee' series. When the New York times reviewed the 2016 exhibit they mentioned this series in particular and it's impact culturally; You get the feeling that Mr. Mizrahi is always daring people to criticize him just so he can prove them wrong. Besides “Desert Storm,” other pieces in the exhibition also seem to willfully court controversy — even more so today than when they debuted. From a 1991 collection called the “Tee Pee” series, for example, there’s “Totem Pole Gown,” a strapless, form-fitting sheath of yellow wool embroidered with imagery mimicking the faces and patterns of Native American totem poles from the Pacific Northwest. (Ms. Campbell appeared in that dress on the Sept. 16, 1991, European edition of Time magazine, making her the first black model to appear on that magazine’s cover.) Another from the series is “Tee Pee Shearling,” a red coat adorned with beaded patterns emulating American Indian motifs. Like a Pop artist, Mr. Mizrahi was thinking not of authentic Indian art but of cheap kitsch sold at roadside souvenir stands. Still, considering today’s ethnic and racial identity concerns, often inflamed on social media, you can imagine the uproar that would ensue were Mr. Mizrahi to introduce such garments now.'...... I agree and I don't think something like this would be produced today unless it was by an actual Native American designer, and rightly so, but the jacket still has its place as a mirror of the times and Mr Mizrahi's own personal sense of wit and way of looking at the world around him during this time period.
The jacket is cut to be oversized and large as it sits on the body. This will allow it to fit just about any size. You just slip it on and it has no closures at the front. The collar and front edging flip over slightly when on so that you can see the red shearling on the inside. The entire jacket is shearling with the fur to the inside and the suede part to the outside. The cut is big and oversized. The sleeves are cut to an extra long length and you can flip up the cuffs to show the sheepskin there too. There are pockets on each side of the hips and the coat widens out as it nears the hem to be very wide and full. Onto the shearling are a series of hand beaded Native American motifs. These curve around and follow the shape of the jacket running across the front and over each sleeve. The design continues to the back where it is very extensive and elaborate. All of the bead work is done by hand and uses bright primary colours that pops off of the red. The jacket also has a band of suede fringe that runs along the bottom of the design all the way around you to the front and then all the way around the back and around each sleeve. The colour is a beautiful deep burgundy red and the beadwork pops beautifully against it. It is an extraordinary piece that definitely has it's place in fashion history. Excellent condition with one minor note below
The suede is fully backed in sheepskin shearling. The jacket slips on to wear with no closures. Pockets on either hip. The cuffs can be flipped down or worn flipped up. I see an area of darkening to the suede around the beadwork at the back. Please see the photo after the label shot. The loose and over-sized cut should allow it to work on just about any size.
Sleeves: approx 26" with the cuffs flipped down
Shoulders: no defined seam
Bust-hips: 30-31" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 35" from neck to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: OSFA
Reference Photos: (1) Fall 1991 Isaac Mizrahi Sketch. / (2-4) Photos from "Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History" at the Jewish Museum, 2016. / (5) Fall Fashions 1991 featured in Town and Country Magazine.
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.
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