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BY DESIGN

New York Times, Sunday, July 30, 2017

Author:
Isaac Mizrahi and David J. Kahn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
17/30/20171
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1000000
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000
Isaac Mizrahi
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1833/15/19947/10/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4451325571326
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5514221
David J. Kahn

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 75 Missing: {Q} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Mizrahi. This is puzzle # 172 for Mr. Kahn. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: To mark the 75th anniversary of the New York Times crossword, which debuted in 1942, we are publishing a series of puzzles co-created by famous people who solve the Times crossword, working together with regular Times puzzle contributors. This collaboration is by the designer and TV host Isaac Mizrahi, together with David J. Kahn, a retired consulting actuary in New York City. This is David's 172nd crossword for The Times. More information about the making of today's puzzle appears in the Times's daily crossword column (nytimes.com/column/wordplay).
Constructor notes:
ISAAC: I've been doing the crossword puzzle in the New York Times since high school (an eternity) and the first time my name was in it my mother called and said: 'you've arrived.' It's ... read more

ISAAC: I've been doing the crossword puzzle in the New York Times since high school (an eternity) and the first time my name was in it my mother called and said: "you've arrived." It's with glee that I accepted the task to work on one in this illustrious year of anniversary.

I started with the idea to create a round grid that looked like a button. I actually measured the puzzle and hand ruled the grid to illustrate my idea. Within a day or two, I was informed that it wouldn't work because the round idea created too many two word answers, even one word answers which I gather are forbidden. Next, I came up with an idea for portmanteau-ish designer / famous names with answers like TOM FORD MADDOX FORD and FRANK STELLA MCCARTNEY which also got sent back for reasons I still don't understand. I guess there's a lot I don't know about puzzle making!

David and I settled on the following puzzle which I think is engrossing and a lot of fun. And I think more than so many other projects I learned about a latent obsession I have with not only doing puzzles but making them and I think my mother was right. With this puzzle, I've definitely "arrived."

DAVID: Working with Isaac on this puzzle was a lot of fun, and I appreciate the fact that he gave me plenty of his time and input. Originally we started throwing around fashion-related themes, thinking the puzzle would run on a Tuesday or Wednesday. For example, we thought about answers where the last word is a fashion item and the first word is changed to a verb (e.g., SHRINK WRAPS, STICK SHIFTS, etc.). Isaac also thought that something called "Designer Mix" (MADONNA KARAN etc.) might work.

We finally decided to do something else: answers, not normally connected to fashion, as they might be clued by a fashionista. The answers we came up with were too long for a daily, so Will gave us the go-ahead for a Sunday puzzle. The main problem was coming up with enough good theme answers that could be clued in a funny fashion-related way. (One answer that didn't make it into the puzzle was SUITS TO A TEE for "Casual Friday alternative?").

Solvers, enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes:
I'm loving this celebrity series — having a puzzle oriented around that person's profession is so much fun. Today we get Isaac Mizrahi, with theme phrases reinterpreted in ... read more

I'm loving this celebrity series — having a puzzle oriented around that person's profession is so much fun.

Today we get Isaac Mizrahi, with theme phrases reinterpreted in kooky, design-related ways. There's something so fun about SHOOTS FROM THE HIP as a paparazzo sneaking a pic from his/her pocket. TAKE UP A COLLECTION worked great as well, the phrase defined as shortening (taking up, in tailoring lingo) a designer's clothing collection. ON PINS AND NEEDLES I could actually see as a punny title for a seamstress's tell-all.

Not all of them hit for me — WORK THE NIGHT SHIFT felt iffy, "shift" not quite design-specific enough for my taste — but so many of them gave me a smile. It's a rare Sunday puzzle of this type that accomplishes that, so huge kudos.

A couple of nice bonuses, too, ALIEN RACE, TEN SIDED evoking images of a (warning, D&D dork alert!) 10-sided die, IMHOTEP a colorful character from ancient Egypt, SIM CARD, and even PARAGON. HONESTLY!, a good amount of bonus material for those solvers not so interested in fashion design.

There were a few blips here and there, but nothing that made me cringe. I don't like an OLEO of A HILL, VAR, ENDE (so tough to keep him and ONDE straight), ENERO, AERO, ORDERER (notice all those constructor-friendly Os, Es, and Rs?), etc. But overall, David and Isaac kept the level right around my threshold … slightly over, but not so far as to bog down my solve.

I'd be curious if moving ON PINS AND NEEDLES down one row would have helped to smooth out some sections. It's so tough when just a single row separates two long themers, as with WORK THE NIGHT SHIFT and ON PINS AND NEEDLES (see results: OLEO, EOE, A HILL).

Overall, a great sense of fun and joy in this puzzle. David and Isaac wore it well.

Jim Horne notes:

This is Mr. Kahn's fifth collaboration puzzle in the NYT. His first, back in 1998, was one of the most memorable puzzles of the Shortz era.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0730 ( 24,736 )
Across
1
Little bit : JOT
4
Chickenhearted : TIMID
9
Spur-of-the-moment : SNAP
13
"Word just got out ..." : IHEARD
19
Funny Gasteyer : ANA
20
Offer a thought : OPINE
21
Shakers' movement? : HULA
22
Loren of "Marriage Italian-Style" : SOPHIA
23
Top limit, for short : MAX
24
Flaunt a loose dress at a soiree? : WORKTHENIGHTSHIFT
27
Text changes : EDITS
29
Mideast royal name : SAUD
30
Fair-hiring letters : EOE
31
Vogue rival : ELLE
32
Overstuff : SATE
33
Title of a fashion industry seamstress's tell-all? : ONPINSANDNEEDLES
38
With 53-Across, goethite, e.g. : IRON
39
N.F.C. North rivals of the Bears : LIONS
40
Support under a tank? : BRA
41
"Enrol," for "enroll": Abbr. : VAR
42
Ones who fix toys? : VETS
43
Grub : EATS
44
Flapper wrapper : BOA
45
Ideal : PARAGON
49
Chipper greeting : HIHO
51
Cellphone chip holder : SIMCARD
53
See 38-Across : ORE
54
Personal guide : CREDO
56
What some wrap dresses are? : FITTOBETIED
60
D.C. summer setting : EDT
61
___ pants : HAREM
62
Plot at home, maybe : ACRE
63
Fantasy writer Michael : ENDE
64
"___ who?" : SEZ
65
Exercise with keys : ETUDE
66
Way off base? : JEEP
67
Unwanted pressure : HEAT
69
Bit of a grind : CHORE
71
Get the gold : WIN
72
Author Michael ___ Dyson : ERIC
74
"Frozen" snow queen : ELSA
75
Mars vehicle : ROVER
76
Scatter : SOW
77
Like a model's hairstyle? : CUTANDDRIED
81
Calendario opener : ENERO
82
Argentine article : UNA
83
Northern Indiana county or its seat : LAPORTE
84
Kind of pressure : PEER
85
Souls : PSYCHES
88
French possessive : TES
89
Bundle : PILE
92
Shiner : STAR
95
Boating aid : OAR
96
Civil War inits. : CSA
97
Ding maker : TIMER
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Kind of street : THRU
99
Takes fashion photos using an unorthodox camera angle? : SHOOTSFROMTHEHIP
104
More limited : LESS
105
"Keep it ___" : REAL
106
Bylaw, briefly : REG
107
Plane-related : AERO
108
N.B.A. notables Korver and Lowry : KYLES
109
Shorten some couture dresses? : TAKEUPACOLLECTION
115
Bach's Partita No. 6 ___ Minor : INE
116
Resistant (to) : AVERSE
117
Swift ending for a bad stage performance : HOOK
118
Chill-inducing, say : EERIE
119
Writer/critic Hentoff : NAT
120
Got the impression : SENSED
121
Uneasy : EDGY
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Ground breaker : SPADE
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Chicago rumblers : ELS
Down
1
Last Scottish king to die in battle : JAMESIV
2
How you might do something dumb : ONADARE
3
Preferred means of arriving at a fashion show? : TAXITOTHERUNWAY
4
Some rescues : TOWS
5
Subj. for CNBC : IPO
6
Putin's peace : MIR
7
Stain that's hard to remove : INKSPOT
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Keeps from proceeding : DETAINS
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Loses : SHEDS
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Order member : NUN
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Klingons, e.g. : ALIENRACE
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Tower with many eaves : PAGODA
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Suffix with 105-Across : IST
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Christmas threesome : HOS
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Banned supplement : EPHEDRA
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Not worth ___ of beans : AHILL
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Go through : RIFLE
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Historical trivia : DATES
25
Vandals : HUNS
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___ party : HEN
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Decagonal : TENSIDED
33
A butter alternative : OLEO
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Actress Vardalos : NIA
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Little Boy, e.g., informally : ABOMB
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Got out of : EVADED
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Stud site : EAR
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Dust jacket part, usually : BIO
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Revenue source for a magazine : PRINTAD
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Inspects a fashion designer's offerings? : GOESOVERTHELINE
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One who says "I'd like to have ..." : ORDERER
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AOL alternative : NETZERO
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Food prep class at school : HOMEEC
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Very short climb : STEP
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Chilling, so to speak : ATEASE
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Ruins as a dog might : CHEWSUP
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Food in the field : RATIONS
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Cantina treats : FAJITAS
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Top of the world : ICECAP
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Quattro minus uno : TRE
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Edict : DECREE
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"Take it!" : HERE
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Nutmeg State collegian : ELI
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Cry of exasperation : HONESTLY
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Warlords, e.g. : RULERS
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Medium-to-poor : NOTSOGOOD
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Ideal : DREAM
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Drunk's problem : DTS
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Cop's target : PERP
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Cans : COOLERS
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One may be tipped : HAT
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Goes through : PIERCES
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Creator of an ancient pyramid scheme? : IMHOTEP
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Ring around the collar : LEI
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Place for cannons : ARSENAL
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Winter apples : RUSSETS
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Holiday scene : CRECHE
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You, once : THEE
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Some Latinas: Abbr. : SRTAS
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Pitch : HEAVE
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Like some floors : OAKEN
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Order member : FRA
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Long-winded : TALKY
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Leg bender : KNEE
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Advantage : USE
111
___ Xing : PED
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Put in, as hours : LOG
113
Glass on public radio : IRA
114
Suffix with fact : OID

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?