When I was asked whether I’d like to interview Rachel Zoe, I was, like, so excited. I wasn’t that excited actually, but even with my limited knowledge of the fashion industry I knew that she was a big name, so it was a deffo yes. A quick wiki later and I found out that Rachel is a superstar stylist to the stars, who was reponsible for helping the likes Mischa Barton and loads of other starlets rock the vintage/boho look. However… for every good report, there seems to be a bad one for Rachel – fans love her style and chic, others place her at the centre of the size zero/super skinny debate. Whatever your opinion, Rachel’s life is a whirl of social events, glamour, expensive clothes and stress. Lots of stress. How do I know that? Because she’s starring in a fly-on-the-wall documentary series. Equal parts annoying, intentionally and unintentionally hilarious and addictive viewing, The Rachel Zoe Project starts on recently rebranded UKTV channel Really tonight (Tuesday 19 May) at 11pm.
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TV Scoop: When did you first realise you wanted to get into the fashion industry? Rachel Zoe: I think I had I known what actually existed in the fashion world before I actually graduated from college, I probably would have done it very differently… and gone to fashion school, maybe gone to St Martins. So I didn’t really map it out. But I think when I figured out what was out there I became obsessed by it. It was all I ever wanted to do and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It has been like that ever since.
TVS: Now, you’re well known for your vintage look, right? When did that first emerge as the style for you? RZ: For as long as I can remember! As soon as I was old enough to shop I fell in love with vintage. When I was younger, as a teenager, I used to ask myself how I could get this glamour for, like, not thousands and thousands of dollars. Ultimately, that answer kept coming back up as vintage. How could I get those vintage fur coats, that peasant dress or kaftan or whatever… that’s when I fell in love with vintage. I think, for me, it became the way that I could get that unique piece that no one else could have.
TVS: Who were your first style icons when you first started out? RZ: I think it has always been the icons from the 60s and 70s. You know… Twiggy, Edie Sedgwick, Penelope Tree. And then you go into the Marianne Faithfuls, and Ali McGraws and Bianca Jaggers. They were all so glamorous in such an effortless way. With all the tassled hair and sequins and Yves Saint Laurent. I just became obsessed.
TVS: OK, so onto the show. With everything you experienced in the past – all the cameras, the showbiz events etc – was the idea of doing a fly-on-the-wall documentary series a daunting prospect? RZ: It was something I said would never do in my whole life. And then you have your parents in your ear and saying never say never. I also said I’d never write a book and I’ve done that… so it was the last thing I thought I’d ever do but it turned out to be the best thing I ever did. Life lesson learned there. It’s hard though, I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t done as effort to become a celebrity, it was done in an effort to educate people about what we do in the fashion industry and how we go about it. What the designers do and what the process of styling is. We go into it. I was getting kind of tired about the misconceptions that stylists live this glamorous life, just go to shows and parties and put dresses on people. That’s not what it is.
TVS: So what would you say to those people who say that your job – and the fashion industry as a whole – is money for old rope and a doss? It’s not a real job, surely… RZ: I think that was one of the biggest outcomes of the show – from across the board, from people I meet on the street who are construction workers to people who my dad does business with, tell me that they’re obsessed with the show and that they had absolutely no idea what the process was and all of the management. They’re surprised it’s a proper business and run as one. I think it’s one of those things… we work so hard. It’s not just dressing people for the red carpet. I collaborate with various designers, contribute to magazines and websites, I’m very often pulling clothes for people in their real lives as well as for them in their public life. So it’s a lot and it’s a constant fight and a constant marathon.
TVS: Which is why you need a rock solid team around you. I was actually pretty impressed by the team you have assembled, especially Taylor, you assistant. I wouldn’t like to muck about with her… she’s hardcore! RZ: She is so hardcore. That’s why she has been with me for three years.
TVS: And that’s why you need her, right? How does your team, including your husband and Taylor and all of your closest associates, react to having a camera pointed at them 24-7? RZ: Well… I think that Taylor’s bottom-of-the-list priority is to be famous She has zero interest in it. For her it’s about getting the job done in the most efficient way possible. If you compare it to a proper company, one would say that she’s the COO (Chief Operating Officer). She keeps things moving. I couldn’t do it without her. I couldn’t develop my brand if she wasn’t on the inside making sure everything is running properly.
TVS: Sure, and that’s another thing I noticed in the show… you want to build on your success as a stylist and branch out into a Rachel Zoe brand of accessories. We see you in the show very daunted… why? There were moments where you openly admitted that you were very afraid… RZ: You mean in the sense of developing my own brand? I still am scared! It’s hard. Every. Single. Day. I find it a constant struggle to balance building the brand to where I want it to be and maintaining my clients to keep styling. I still love styling. It’s never ending. It just means a lack of sleep and lots of insecurity, and just trying to keep everything at the level it needs to be at. I’m shattered a lot of the time, an my husband… well, he’s amazing.
TVS: How are Taylor and Brad (Rachel’s new assistant) at the moment? They really do not like each other… RZ: I can’t tell you. I’d have to kill you.
TVS: Not kill me as in.. ‘You totally killed it!’ That’s one of your catchphrases isn’t it? RZ: Oh my God!
TVS: There you go there’s another one… so there’s ‘she totally killed it’… ‘I die’… RZ: Oh my God, when I listen to myself… it’s really quite amazing when you have to watch yourself on TV. I’m like, do I really speak like that?! And then be haunted by these things forever. My clients very often laugh at me when they hear these things come out of my mouth in fits of excitement. And they’ll just be like “did you really say that?” and then it’s there forever.
TVS: That’s another thing that comes across from the show. Whatever anybody thinks of you or thinks of the fashion industry, your passion for fashion is really intense. RZ: Even the producers on the show are just so shocked… however big a meltdown I’m having or if I’m having the toughest day ever, as soon as we get some beautiful clothes in the studio or if I go into a vintage shop I completely transform into a seven-year-old girl in a candy store. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. I just get so excited. The minute I stop doing that (and I don’t think I ever will) I’ll know it’s time to move on.
TVS: So, post-show, how’s life for you? RZ: Life is good! My only complaint is that I’m tired. So tired. Apart from that I’m very, very lucky and fortunate. Listen, nothing in life comes for free so I just want to keep working and getting better. Just to do more and hitting different areas of the business. Once I tackle one thing, I’m like, what’s next?
TVS: I’d be a fool if I didn’t ask you about British fashion while I had this time with you. So, erm, what do you think of British fashion? RZ: Are you kidding me? The style in the UK is a huge, huge inspiration for me. I love… even walking along the streets of London, I’m like, aaaurgh [makes sighing noise]. You just get that great aristocratic style that I love so much. Like that classic English… Savile Row and all that. And… I love the whole Portobello/Notting Hill vibe too. I love it. I think London street style is one of the best in the world. And because I’m so influenced by the 60s and 70s, a huge part of that comes from the UK. My God, forget about it. My favourite English designers, there are quite a few… Stella McCartney, I love Jonathan Saunders, I love Temperley, Matthew Williamson of course… Christopher Kane. There are so many!
TVS: What’s next for your fashion wise? What’s the hot new Rachel Zoe look? RZ: Fashion is moving into the 80s. Me? I’m staying in the 60s! I’ll do a few splashes of 80s vintage Saint Laurent with the shoulder pads and things like that. But, yu know, Marc Jacobs is a huge influence. Luis Vuitton? I can’t even breathe. Chanel, just makes me cry.
TVS: Me too. What about at home… after all the parties and designer clobber, what do you wear? Are you a jogging bottoms girl? RZ: I’m not. When I’m, like, not in ‘my look’ I’m in a bathrobe if truth be told. My casual uniform is some sort of wide-leg jean and some great Chanel or Saint Laurent jacket.