For me, Unzipped is the definitive movie about the fashion industry. Douglas Keeve’s documentary about designer Isaac Mizrahi is real insider stuff — unlike Robert Altman’s clueless Ready to Wear or the current Catwalk, which is basically about Christy Turlington. Unzipped reminded me of the thrill I got when I first started out, that youthful excitement that comes from doing what you’ve always dreamed about.
After several decades, I’ve lost that thrill, since in something as on the surface as fashion, you can grow only so much. But watching Unzipped, it’s impossible to resist getting caught up in Isaac’s talent and enthusiasm. The movie is true to the real Isaac. He’s not at all pretentious or snobby — he makes fun of himself and even lets viewers see him have a tantrum or two.
Unzipped has a feel for the chaos at shows, though reality is even crazier than the movie. The girls have about 30 seconds to change outfits. One time in Paris I realized the changing area was packed with these goony guys in nice suits with backstage passes. The girls were too busy to notice, but someone was obviously paid a lot to let these rich playboys ogle us.
The models’ sorority-style camaraderie is also in the movie. Some say that Linda Evangelista seems like a prima donna, but that’s not true. It is true, though, that the only person who can put down a supermodel is another supermodel; it’s good-natured, but it can be quite savage. In the film, Kate Moss seems quiet because she’s self-protective. In a business that snatches kids from malls — or, in my case, the swamps of South Carolina — and thrusts them into a competitive, sophisticated world, Kate’s wise beyond her years.
These girls are thrown together with people who can all make money off them. They’re made to feel they can’t go away for two weeks because another girl will come up. No one knows what we go through except other models — to be followed by strangers, to get hit on a hundred times a day. It’s a weird life.
I always tell young girls not to go into it until they’re 18, and then let’s hope they’re a savvy 18. But they can learn from those of us who came before, and films like Unzipped help. But even for people not interested in fashion, Unzipped is still a hell of a lot of fun. A
Lauren Hutton’s first fashion job was in 1965 as a Christian Dior model; her exclusive 1973 contract with Revlon was a modeling first. Hutton has appeared on 25 Vogue covers and in such movies as American Gigolo. She currently coproduces and hosts Lauren Hutton and…, a nationally syndicated talk show.