[09/09/08 - 12:05 AM]
Interview: "The Rachel Zoe Project" Star Rachel Zoe
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

Although Bravo is losing "Project Runway" after its current season ends, the network hopes to fill its fashion void when "The Rachel Zoe Project" debuts tonight at 11:00/10:00c. Stylist Rachel Zoe took a breather from dressing the Hollywood elite to talk with our Jim Halterman about this weekly glimpse into her hectic world.

Though not a competition reality show, "The Rachel Zoe Project" is a window inside the demanding, busy life of Zoe, who explains what we'll be seeing on the new show. "I think you're really going to see a lot of what it is that I do, what it is that being a stylist really means � well, at least for me in my world." Besides high profile clients, whom Zoe would not reveal for the sake of surprise when tuning into the show, she did reveal, "You're going to get a lot of designers, a lot of the biggest designers in the fashion world. And you're really going to get that drama that plays out through award season and fashion week, and a lot of the dynamics that exist between myself and my team that works for me."

Speaking of her team, which includes Zoe's husband/business manager, Rodger, her assistants Taylor and Brad apparently are set to generate their own levels of drama during the course of the series. As Zoe explains, "Taylor has been with me for three years. Taylor, as she would say about herself, she's not the easiest person all the time. I love her like family. She's like one of my children. And she is about keeping a very tight ship and there's no margin for error in what we do. And she takes that very seriously." Enter Brad, who was hired just as the show was getting under way. "I knew that Brad was extremely competent and I fell in love with him immediately. And he had warnings, you know, and from Taylor herself." Keeping mum about specific conflicts that occur with the stylish pair, Zoe promised. �I think that you will enjoy, for better or for worse, the dynamic between the two of them. And just know going into it, it's not edited and it is extremely real and there is absolutely no acting in this show."

Why do a show in an already-cluttered reality show market? Zoe was candid about feeling it was time to show her critics (and fans) who she really is. "I think that there's huge misconceptions about who people think I am and so hopefully this will sort of show them one way or another that I am this person they thought or I'm not this person they thought I was. I mean," she also stated, "I think that I just am who I am. And if people like that or don't like that, that's up to them to decide." As for the amount of press attention given to her thin body frame, Zoe says everyone is definitely making too much of it. Defending herself, Zoe said, "I am very pro-eating and I am really Jewish mother at heart. And if you ask anyone that is in my personal life or professional life, I'm almost like a food pusher."

Despite having been in the business for fifteen years, Zoe still feels a sense of giddiness in her work. "I think that every time we go into a new press tour or a premiere, an awards show," she explains. "I still get that excitement that I got 15 years ago whether it's Jennifer Garner, Eva Mendes, Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, Cameron [Diaz]... it is still just as exciting. Every dress is still exciting to me." Speaking of how she knows there's no end in sight with her love for what she does, Zoe admits, "I think that's why I can't seem to ever give up what I do. And I think that was the whole challenge of the show was sort of... really having another job in addition to my job."

One of the hazards of being so passionate about your work is never being able to turn it off; the feeling that you're never really too separated from your work. "My brain," Zoe shared, "doesn't, as a rule, ever shut down which is not a good thing. I'm not proud of that. But I think that, of course, I notice my surroundings and it's not with this sort of malicious [way] like oh my God I want to fix her now. But then there's sometimes where someone is doing something just so everything wrong that I'm like Oh my God, please just give me ten minutes with her and I can change this, I know."

Zoe also shared how she began her career in the fashion business. "I've known my whole life how much I loved clothes and how much I loved dressing people up, and all that," she explained. "It wasn't something that I knew that I could make a career out of. I was a sociology/psychology major so I knew I wanted to work with people. And when I graduated college, I got a job through a friend of a friend as a fashion assistant at YM magazine. And from the first day I started, it just � that was it. That was it."

Zoe was also happy to share some style tips that she feels are the vital for dressing in today's world. The first vital item according to Zoe is a coat. "Probably an incredible coat, one to the knee," she offers. "And then, of course, one that's more kind of cropped like to the hip, one that's a little more casual. I would say incredible boots. Of course, for the fall it's all about your boot � an ankle boot and a knee-high boot. Clearly a platform super, super high pump that you can wear with everything all the time. And of course... your perfect bag that you can take day to night and not too big but maybe a midsize." Finally, she adds, "big, big fabulous sunglasses."

In terms of everyone having their own personal style, Zoe doesn't look far but at her assistants. "If you notice it, Taylor is always in black and she's very dark, and she's very hard. And Brad is always in very happy clothes all the time and he's very dandy." She quickly added, "I think they're equally as obsessed with fashion [and] I think that's why anyone gets into this [business] and I think I'm very luck that they... both have such incredible style."

Outside of "The Rachel Zoe Project" and her stylist business, Zoe has been around long enough to know that the last thing to do is rest on your laurels so she's looking at what is next for her. "My goal," she said, "is to create a lifestyle brand. Something that there's no limit to, you know? Something that will go from belts and sunglasses to jewelry and clothes [to] fragrance and home. I really love what I do and I think that however I can challenge myself to broaden that scope as much as possible is my ultimate goal. I kind of need to keep doing. I need to keep doing. I'm not good at sedentary. I'm not good at complacency. I'm not good at just sort of saying Okay, I've done a lot here. I'm done."

Getting back to "The Rachel Zoe Project," Zoe revealed that she does have a goal for her critics as well as the show's audience in terms of what they'll take from watching her show. "I think that if [the critics and viewers] walk away with a better understanding of what it is that goes on and the amount of work and the amount of pressure that exists prior to seeing someone on the red carpet � I think that would be amazing." Finally, she adds, "Whether [the viewers] are interested or not in knowing who I am or whether they want to still hate me forever, great. But at least... it's saying okay, this is who I am."

"The Rachel Zoe Project" premieres tonight at 11:00/10:00c. Episodes will then air every Tuesday at 10:00/9:00c.

  [september 2008]  


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