Isaac Mizrahi is a well-known fashion designer, TV personality, and performer, but few people know about his passion for bridge. It was his mother — an “erudite, sophisticated” woman 1
— who encouraged him to learn the game. As Mizrahi has recounted on various occasions, "When I was 25, my mother told me, 'Isaac, if you don't pick up bridge, you won't have any friends by the time you reach 40.” 2
Hence at the age of 30, Mizrahi found himself taking bridge lessons with three friends at the former Manhattan Bridge Club in New York City. 3
The experience held great appeal; Mizrahi loved the “adultness” of playing bridge and assuming the persona of club sophisticate. 4
Yet Mizrahi has wryly noted that there is “absolutely very little correlation between fashion and bridge [players]... I like [the bridge club] so much because it’s one place where I can go and not think about clothes.” 5 (As a small creative project, however, he has designed a bridge card set available for purchase from The Jewish Museum.)
On an intellectual level, Mizrahi has described the “impenetrability” of playing bridge. “I think it’s really important to keep that state of vulnerability. You have to give it up every once in a while. You have to walk into a room and be an idiot and not know what you’re doing. That’s the only way you can get anywhere in the world. And that’s the great lesson of bridge.” 6 (Mizrahi is plenty smart; he also undertakes the New York Times crossword puzzle on a daily basis.) 7
Bridge has been a regular hobby for the fashion mogul. He came to host Sunday bridge parties at his Manhattan apartment for up to 2 tables, replete with “classic comfort food” for lunch. Given his intrinsic sense of style, perhaps imagine a practical service on Queen's Ware Wedgwood plates 8, or popcorn in a scalloped Astier de Villatte bowl. 9
With regard to partnerships, Mizrahi has mentioned playing with the late composer Stephen Sondheim and longtime expert-author Philip Alder. He played regularly his mother, whom he has referred to as his best friend. 10
Mizrahi appeared once in Alder’s bridge column in The New York Times, as well as in a cameo role in the 2021 bridge documentary “Dirty Tricks.” In the latter he sagely observed that “It takes anyone a very long time to... grasp the brilliance of the game. Not you — you’re not brilliant. The game itself is so fantastic.” 11 Now in his 60s, he continues to play online every day, as well as on the Bridge Baron iPhone app as “a nervous habit.” 12
1, 7, 10 Mizrahi, I. (2019). I.M. Flatiron Books.
2 Mitchell, T. (2016, March 19). Isaac Mizrahi’s awesome life: RuPaul, bridge games and bearded lumberjack bears. New York Post.
3, 4, 5, 12, 13 Harris, C. & Startz, J. (Hosts). (2022, July 14). Isaac Mizrahi Has Designs on Bridge. [Audio podcast episode]. In Sorry, Partner.
6 Hanlon, G. (2013, November 20). Million-Dollar Hobby: Inside the World of Big-Money Bridge. Observer.
8 Griscom, N. (April 2001). Mizrahi’s Hand. Food & Wine.
11 Sivan, Daniel. (Director). (2021.) Dirty Tricks. Filmplan International.