Why you should care
Because independence has a lot of guises.
Before Isaac Mizrahi was a fashion powerhouse, before he was a judge on Project Runway: All Stars, he was a schoolboy in Brooklyn raised by parents he describes as both “religious religious” and “clutchy clutchy.” It was against this backdrop that Mizrahi first started to feel out his own identity and explore New York’s thriving ’70s club scene. As is still the case with so many American teenagers, Mizrahi’s ticket to freedom came in the form of his first car: a second-hand Cadillac Deville.
A hand-me-down from his father, the Cadillac didn’t live up to Mizrahi’s aesthetic.
I had so much freedom. I was like the freedom wagon, because I had this car and I would pick everybody up. I was mobility.
“It was brown — like a really bad brown, and it had, like, kind of an oyster-color pebble grain roof that you’d think was a convertible top but wasn’t,” he recalls. It was also massive.
“It was, like, the size of a speedboat. You could fit literally 10 people in that car very comfortably.”
The look didn’t matter to Mizrahi as much as the independence it afforded him. Because of his parents’ conservative background, he didn’t get to host parties or bring friends back home to hang out. The Cadillac, he says, served that function — it was his “traveling party” and he was “the freedom wagon.” He recalls how he’d park 20 blocks from Manhattan’s most popular clubs so he and his friends could make an impact when they hit the town.
“We’d dress like freaks to get led into these clubs, like Studio 54 and New York New York — because they were looking for freaks, and we’d have to go together in a group to get in.”
Listen above for Mizrahi’s full story and learn about how his brown Cadillac was his freedom wagon.