A charming and witty memoir; required reading for fashion aficionados.

The dynamic life of iconic fashion designer Mizrahi (b. 1961).

Growing up in Brooklyn in a Syrian Jewish Orthodox family, where he stood out “like a chubby gay thumb,” Mizrahi was considered artistic from an early age. Though his father worked in the clothing industry, their relationship was one of mutual indifference. The author was more fascinated with his mother, Sarah, and they bonded over long conversations on style and culture. In his late teens, he came out to her, which strained their relationship, yet the disclosure would become just one of many defining moments in the author’s life. With an amiable, conversational flow, Mizrahi shares anecdotes ranging from childhood public shaming, which heightened his self-awareness, to breakthrough moments when his appreciation of sartorial elegance became a calling that would escort him from Parsons School of Design to stints with Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein. Nights out at Studio 54 and designing for Liza Minnelli led to more hobnobbing with celebrities. Embedded into the memoir’s chronological narrative are pages of opinion and critique on the fashion world and how Mizrahi’s career choice has influenced the rest of his life. He writes frankly about necessity, sacrifice, and the struggle between his personal life and his desire to wholly immerse himself in the fashion industry: “the harder we worked and the more devoted we were to fashion, the further we all seemed to get from our own sex lives—and the more we used fashion as a diversion from deeper, more meaningful things.” He also contributes thoughts on darker times: his father’s death, mourning the devastating number of “fashion glitterati” lost to AIDS, and his battles with chronic insomnia, anxiety, and depression. His unpredictable courtship of his husband, Arnold, reads like a Hollywood love story. The key to the warmth and overall success of the memoir is Mizrahi’s unapologetic, bare-all approach as he shares the best and worst aspects of his life, all of which helped mold him into the fashion powerhouse he has become today.

A charming and witty memoir; required reading for fashion aficionados.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-07408-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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