A few weeks ago, I had the unbelievable opportunity to speak with one of the world's greatest fashionistas and my all-time favorite reality TV star: Rachel Zoe. I only had about 20 minutes with the faux fur-loving stylist, but I managed to get each question in. Not only was she more than willing to answer everything I threw at her (including the painful rapid fire), she was funny, forthcoming, and quite possibly the most fabulous celeb I've ever interviewed!
Brad and Rachel pop a pose - Katy Winn/Getty Images
Rachel with her right-hand woman Taylor - Splash News
Before you tune into the second season finale of her hit Bravo show, "The Rachel Zoe Project," on Monday night at 10 p.m., check out our chat. Yes, it's looooong; but, it's well worth your time. In fact, I happen to think it's ba-nanas!
I just have to tell you that I'm a huge fan. I love the book; I love the website, and of course, I love the show. So, this is a huge moment for me to be able to chat with you.
"Ohhh, you're really sweet. You know what? It's a huge moment for me to talk to you. How's that? [laughs]
So, this season has been all about high fashion mixed with high stress. What's with all the drama?
Ummm, you know there's always going to be drama. You know what I mean? We can't help it. [laughs] It's not scripted; we can't control it. It just happens. I think that you see a little bit less between Brad and Taylor [on the show] but trust me, they still have their moments!
How did Taylor and Brad end up on Team Zoe? Did you just love their personal style? Did they interview?
It's a process. I mean, I don't generally run my company like a traditional corporate company where you go through like a series of 10 interviews and all that sort of thing. Brad and I had met before I even knew that I was doing a show, and I fell in love with him. I knew that he had the love for fashion, and I just knew that he would fit really well into my team. But, I hadn't had a guy on my team yet, so that would've been new, and I didn't have a space for him. And so what happened was ... six months later I got an opening and he was the first and only person that I actually interviewed, and I basically almost like recalled him, you know? [laughs] I said, "OK, I have an opening ... da da da." And he came in ... and basically that was it. That was it! And Taylor started with me four years ago, so that was something where they both ... to be honest, I don't want to use the phrase "stalked me," but they kind of were relentless in the pursuit via a million other people that I work with or know. And every time I stumbled into someone they would say, "You know this girl Taylor, you really should use her." And then the same exact thing happened with Brad. So when enough people that you know recommend someone, it kind of almost does the work for you in a way.
Alright, so I might have to start stalking you.
Did you ever think that the catchphrases "I die," "That's bananas," and "I'm shutting it down" were going to become as big as they have?
I don't think so. Actually, to answer your question, never in a million years did I think one person would ever reiterate or repeat those words. Ever. Because they're these crazy things that I say all the time to describe a really exciting and overwhelming situation. It's just ... I don't even know how to explain it. Definitely not intentional! In fact, almost embarrassing ... not almost embarrassing, definitely embarrassing. I don't know what will catch on, what won't. It's not the intention. But we say silly things all the time. Like, "OOC," which is "out of control."
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Well, I definitely want to talk about your website. I also signed up for the daily fashion blast; I'm totally obsessed. Can you tell me a little bit about the launch of both of those?
Sure. The digital social networking world was something that I didn't totally understand and I kinda found it intimidating. But once I started to wrap my head around it, I became really fascinated with it. You know, Twitter and all of that? Well, almost every day someone was saying, "Do you have a site?" And everybody would be asking questions on my Twitter. So, I was like, "OK!" I am really in love with communicating with people so quickly and so directly. So in doing the newsletter, I think the goal was just to say, "There is a trend every day whether it's in beauty, apparel, accessories, whatever ... and that will then link to rachelzoe.com and rachelzoe.com will ultimately be the domain for anything and everything, whether its questions for the Ask Rachel section, it's video, it's ultimately selling products on the site ... and I look forward to just growing it. It's actually really addicting and really, really fun. I love writing the copy. I love picking the items.
It's awesome; I read it every single morning, but any suggestions for the guys out there? You're all about the handbags, but when are you going to talk menswear?
I want to do men's as well; that's the plan. Listen, if I could I'd do a men's thing everyday ... [I would]. I promise that I will definitely have some men's in there; I don't want to say small amounts, but definitely I will throw the boys some love for sure. [laughs]
You briefly mentioned the product line. Tell me more!
Yes! I've done a line for QVC exclusively that previewed at Bryant Park during New York Fashion Week, but that just featured about five pieces like one or two bags and some faux fur pieces. But this month, I'm doing my full collection of faux fur, jewelry, sunglasses, hats, scarves, and bags, and it's exclusively on QVC.com and QVC.
And what about housewares? 2010? 2011?
Down the road for sure. I think apparel and fragrance will come before that but then home for sure.
OK, I need to talk award shows with you.
Go for it!
What is your favorite awards show to style celebs for and why?
Hmmm, that's hard. I don't know. I definitely get the adrenaline most from the Oscars, of course. Because I think that's sort of the pinnacle in America. I mean, that's it. You know? But at the same time, I kind of love the ... the sort of ... what's the word? I like the more casual, kind of lighthearted approach to the Globes. To be honest, I really love the Venice Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival a lot. Because when you do something in Europe you can push the envelope that much more. I can be more over the top. [laughs]
Rachel and Kate Hudson hug it out - Donald Bowers/Getty Images
Nicole Richie parties with her gal pal - Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com
After one of those award shows, do you and Brad and Taylor sit down the next morning with your Starbucks and look at the best and worst dressed lists that people, like myself, create? Or, do you not care at all?
Yes and no. I do go back and forth about it because some of them know what they're talking about and some of them don't. I tend to really look at Women's Wear Daily and Bazaar and Vogue and Elle and the more fashion-driven publications, but at the same time I'm also always very curious as to what everyone thought across the board.
Well, I had Eva Mendes on my best dressed list after you styled her for the 66th Annual Golden Globes earlier this year!
See, you know what you're talking about! [laughs]
Who haven't you styled that you would love to style?
I get asked that question a lot, and to be honest, there really isn't someone that I have my eye on. I think it's something where I would have loved to have styled many of the old Hollywood starlets. I think that would have been a dream come true. Jackie Kennedy, Sophia Loren ... I know Jackie Kennedy wasn't a movie star, but wow. I'd love to dress Michelle Obama because I'm obsessed with her.
Let me ask you this: Can a red carpet gown ever be worn twice? I ask that because I see people like Anna Wintour wearing the same Chanel pieces over and over again. If Anna Wintour is doing that, can everyone do that?
That is a very good question. I personally would not want my client to wear a dress in a major red carpet moment if it has been worn and photographed by another high profile figure. I think that there is a big difference between wearing a suit or jacket twice or carrying a bag a million times; I think that's common sense and good recycling.
What do you think about somebody like a Renee Zellweger who pretty much only wears Carolina Herrera? Do you have a take on that?
I think it's fantastic. I think that if you can establish such a comfort zone with one designer that you don't even require a stylist and you just know that that designer knows exactly what works for you, then it's a go-to. It just makes it that much less stressful. I think that Carolina, at this point, has proven time and time again that she works so beautifully for Renee and Renee clearly loves it and is really comfortable in it, so it works. I mean, it really works. I think that it's a great marriage of the two.
Speaking of those relationships, how do you cultivate such strong ones with the biggest names in fashion?
I would say that it's 15 years of working at this. I didn't start a year ago. I think that there is a trust that comes after a very long period of working together. I think that the designers know that I'm extremely honest and upfront and if I don't think something is going to work, I will never string them along and say that it is going to work. And, I think that's really the key to any relationship ... with a designer, with a client, with a friend, whoever. I think at the end of the day if you're honest then they'll respect you more. Because if I had 10 designers making dresses and I promised them it was going to be worn, trust me, I would not have a relationship with them.
Rachel scouts for trends alongside Elle’s Joe Zee and actress Milla Jovovich during Donna Karan’s show at NY Fashion …
Time for a little 2009 recap. Who do you think is the breakout designer of the year? I'm not the fashionista that you are by any means, but I kind of felt like Philip Lim kinda popped in '09.
Oh, I love him. He's a friend. I think he's brilliant. I think that he has really hit on making incredibly well made clothes at a very reasonable price point. I think he's managed to really find a balance between luxury and affordability. I'm such a fan of his clothes. I went to his anniversary party here in LA, and I walked into the store and was like, "Oh, I want everything ... so good!" He hit it. You're right; you are fashionably knowledgable. I should say! How's that!? [laughs]
Are there any must have items for women this fall?
So many must haves. I'm all about sequins in every shape and form, leggings, jackets, tuxedo jackets, vests in every form. Lots of '80s ... sharp shoulders, biker jackets, biker boots, zippers, buckles, grommets, and huge jewelry.
And what about for the guys? If I see you again at the next Bravo A-List Awards, what am I going to wear that isn't a boring tailored suit?
Three pieces! Must have a waist coat! Must have a vest underneath! And put a little pop-up collar under it.
No bowtie? Brad style?
Listen, I'm a little partial to the bowtie, but I also don't think it works on everybody. [laughs]
2010. Can you predict any trends, or do you just go with the flow?
I kinda look to the designers. Marc Jacobs so eloquently brought back neon which I think is so fun, with a splash here and there. Love animal prints; I never seem to get sick of them. Fringe is everywhere.
So, you're all about the Alberta Ferretti fringed handbags?
Yeah; so cute, right? I love fringe. I love fringe!
Let's see if you can handle a little rapid fire action. What is the most fashionable city in the world?
Favorite shopping spot in New York?
Ohhh, wow! Kirna Zabete.
I also need a vintage spot.
New York Vintage or Resurrection.
Favorite shopping spot in LA?
Decades and Curve and Satine.
What do you think about the [boutique] explosion going on on Melrose [Avenue]? Is it becoming the new Rodeo Drive?
Yeah, it's sort of the hipster Rodeo.
OK. What article of clothing can you not live without? You have to pick just one!
I can't! Ummm, my collection of Chanel jackets.
What do you spend way too much money on? The Chanel jackets?
Yeah. Designer vintage. Waaay too much money.
Most important accessory?
Uh, brutal! Ummm ...
I kinda feel like you put the cocktail ring on the map.
I was going to say a cocktail ring. I was going to say that!
I'm blaming you for the cocktail ring, and I love it.
Damn, you know me, don't you?! [laughs]
What's your favorite pair of shoes at the moment?
[gasps] Brian Atwood, my Brian Atwoods.
He totally killed it this year too.
He killed it, and he's one of my best guy friends.
Fave handbag at the moment? Is it the Alberta Ferretti fringed one?
Favorite handbag at the moment ... there's this one from Marc Jacobs with all these grommets on it. I gotta have it. It's got like chains and grommets and leather.
Is there anything you'd never be caught dead in?
Yeah. I would say ... acid wash skinny jeans.
Rihanna's been rocking them.
But she looks great in them. It does not work on me. Everything on Rihanna works. It just does. For some reason, it just works.
Is there a trend that you're not feeling? That needs to disappear immediately?
Not really. I'm really in love with what's happening right now.
Let me ask you this because I can't stand them ... I see way too many of those Herve Leger bandage dresses. Are they ever going to go away?
Nope, never going away.
Just different recreations over and over?
What about the Yves St. Laurent Trib Two [platform heels]?
I think those should never go away. I think they're great. They're fantastic.
What is the biggest fashion mistake somebody can make?
I stand by just wearing too much at once ... too much makeup, too much hair, too many accessories, too many prints, too much everything. Incorporating too many trends into one look.
Justin Steffman/Splash News
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Ready for a few random questions? Did you see "Valentino: The Last Emperor" or "The September Issue"? Your thoughts?
I saw "Valentino" twice. I saw it with Mr. Valentino and Giancarlo [Giammetti], and I have to tell you it goes down as one of my top five favorite movies of all time. It was one of the most beautiful stories I've ever seen. It was incredible. It was extraordinary.
I'm hoping it wins the Oscar for Best Documentary this year.
Oh my God, me too! Wouldn't that be great?
Do people need to change their wardrobe seasonally? How does the average person deal with that? Do you just pick key items and take them from season to season, or do you have to go shopping four times a year and redo everything?
No, I think you definitely don't have to redo everything. I think you can maybe add a couple things each season to supplement. But for example, if you have a great mini dress that you wear in the summer time, just wear it with tights, boots, and a cute leather jacket for the fall. It's just about adding and layering and getting the most out of your items that you already have.
When you aren't on the red carpet and you aren't being hunted by the paparazzi, are you ever not fabulously dressed? Do you ever just kick back and rock sweatpants and flip flops? Or, is that just not you?
If I'm not dressed, I'm in a bathrobe. That's it. It's one extreme or the other. I don't really have a middle ground. I don't. [laughs]
When you're getting ready and you're styling yourself, what is that preparation like? Are you drinking champagne or are you crazed?
Frantic! Definitely not drinking alcohol. Never before. It's usually just a frantic frenzy of racing against the clock because everything is so last minute. I don't ever decide what I'm wearing until 10 minutes before. And, I do moisturize a ton and I use eye gels every time before I go out. That is a true statement.
Well Rachel, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me. It was very exciting.
Of course. You're so sweet! Thank you very much, and thank you for watching and for all the support.
- Rachel Zoe