I Die for Bravo’s ‘The Rachel Zoe Project’

I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, I get twisted delight from defying convention, and sometimes common sense, calling it “my personal style”. I am living and breathing example of “what not to wear” so much so that my selections would send Stacy London of the TLC style show into apoleptic fits possibly never to recover. Now you’re thinking that it couldn’t be that bad.  My closet (singular not plural) consists of clothes that are too big and too old (No they’re not “vintage”; I’ve had these things since high school. I can only lie to myself but so much), shoes that I never wear and sneakers that I wear too much, wide brimmed hats for the summer months (the sun is the devil) and boyish caps for the winter.  As for accessories, I have three pairs of earrings–strictly inexpensive (“cheap” would sound so cheap). 

There was a time, long ago, when I cared about looking “good”. Oh, those were the days when I shopped at Saks, Bloomies and the boutiques on the Upper West Side always collecting must haves like that fabulous red raincoat, a baby-bottom soft leather briefcase, and the killer jersey red dress that I wore to a company X-mas party and which caught the attention of a party crasher with a killer smile and a seductive British accent.  How I got here from there is way too long of a story to tell. 

Although I may be a walking fashion disaster, I have overwhelming respect for the business of beauty. I subscribe to W, and Elle and read Vogue when I have time.  And I watch Bravo’s latest version of crack for the reality television addicted, The Rachel Zoe Project  (Tuesday, 10 p.m. Eastern)

I am new to all that is Rachel Zoe, fashion stylist to the stars and the whipping-girl of a media who seem hell bent on blaming her for society’s obsession with size 0 women and everything else evil that exists in the world. (For an example, read the over-the-top  review by NY Times critic, Ginia Bellafante)

The source of Zoe’s bad press seems to stem from her association with now former clients Nicole Ritchie and and Lindsay Lohan, who have publicly blamed Zoe for their excesses. It’s no wonder that the 37-year-old fashionista has abandoned the fickle 20-somethings she used to dress for grown ass sophisticates like actress/model Joy Bryant and actress Debra Messing. On The Rachel Zoe Project, it is for Messing and Bryant that Zoe works her magic creating eye-catching, media attention grabbing looks for red carpet events. 

I know what you are thinking (I always do), “What the hell?  All this skinny beyotch does is shop and tell people what clothes look nice on them. Whatever. Me and my girls do that all the time and ain’t nobody paying us a dime for it.” Well, let me stop you right there. Just because someone makes something look easy doesn’t mean that it is.  I get that same ish as a writer. Any SOB who can type 2 words a minute and string together a few words fashions himself/herself a writer. Just as writing is a craft, thanks to Zoe, I’ve come to appreciate fashion styling as a craft as well — one deserving of respect and the requisite compensation.   

The services that Zoe provides can make the difference between an actress being regarded as a leading lady or a has-been. In a crowded marketplace, you have to stand out.  You are the commodity. You are the brand. (This goes not only for fashion but for everything these days.) Because Zoe understands what looks good not only on the body but on the red carpet under the hot lights and in front of the cameras, she raises her clients’ net worth.  

The Rachel Zoe Project also shows the stylist to be a businesswoman with a non diva-like management style. When there is tension between her new hire. Brad, a dapper but somewhat hapless gent from Vogue and veteran employee, Taylor, a misanthrope with a punk vibe, Zoe proves she is adept at conflict resolution, speaking with each separately helping them both understand their role in helping her take her business to the next level — the branding of products.  Even when Brad truly f’s up by not attending to a flood in her home studio but instead having meltdown causing the possible ruin million of dollars worth one-of-kind designer dresses which are housed there, Zoe is patient with the newbie (I would have ripped him at least one more orafice) telling him that she gives people three chances and he has used up one of his.

If Zoe has one real flaw, it’s that she is a shop-a-holic who collects vintage Birkin bags like some people collect art much to the chagrin of her seemingly loving and charming husband-manager, Rodger.   

Watching The Rachel Zoe Project has inspired me to care about my appearance again and to attempt to develop a real personal style which means connecting not with the person I once was or that I am today but with the person that I hope to become.  In the not to distant future, I would love someone to say to me one of my favorite Zoe-isms, “You are shutting it down.”

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