Preparing for an interview with Isaac Mizrahi and Iman began by breaking up with my closet. Faced with meeting two great icons of our fashion generation suddenly meant even my favorite tailored sheath dress wasn't up to snuff.
I imagine this is how the designers on The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection must have felt when learning their fate would fall into the hands of not just famed designer Isaac Mizrahi, but newly added co-host, Iman. As contestant Jeffrey so eloquently exclaimed as Iman strutted down the catwalk the first time, "It's Iman. The Iman."
But Jeffrey and I are not alone. This this awe-inspiring phenomenon is something Isaac calls the Iman Effect. As he explained it to me, "If Iman comes to a cocktail party, it ups the ante of that cocktail party. "Automatically you think, 'Oh my god, I have to go home and change.'"
He credits Iman's presence with raising the quality of the designers' work this season as well. "I think the minute the designers saw Iman they really understood the level we were expecting them to produce at."
Iman first appeared on the cover of American Vogue in 1976, only a year after being discovered; Yves Saint Laurent called her his ideal woman. But it took Isaac to lure her into the world of fashion competition TV.
"It was Isaac, Isaac, Isaac," she tells me. "I've known him over 20 years, respect him as a designer, his vision, and everything about him."
The fashion bar was raised even further with the arrival of judge Laura Brown, Features/Special Projects Director of Harper's Bazaar (keeps tabs on her day job -- subscribe today) and the addition of dueling fashion houses. "Everything changed with the dueling fashion shows," Iman says emphatically, "This is something no one has seen in TV. This is a brand new show, period."
"Season 1 was nothing more than an experiment," Isaac says. "Season 2, we really did reinvent the genre – and you have to give it up to Bravo for creating the genre to begin with. The Bravo team said we're going to listen to myself and Iman and really collaborate with them. I think in the end I learned more about my own industry from doing this show."
Iman nods in agreement, but does have one complaint. "I said when I was introducing myself to the designers that I have a bubbly but prickly personality. I think Bravo just showed my prickly side." She smiles slyly, then shakes her finger promising, "I'm going to get them for that!"