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Rachel Zoe helps dress stars such as Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner and Anne Hathaway, but clearly that isn’t enough. So Zoe is expanding her reach beyond styling, recently launching a newsletter, “The Zoe Report,” and Web site, and she’ll introduce an accessories line this fall. Meanwhile, her reality show on Bravo, “The Rachel Zoe Project,” will return for its second season on Aug. 24. WWD caught up with her at the Bowery Hotel during a recent trip to New York City to discuss fashion, a life in front of the camera and how she’s adapting to the more frugal economy.
WWD: When you look back at the first season, what were some of the things you learned?
Rachel Zoe: First, I need to develop an edit button for the things that come flying out of my mouth. You don’t know what you sound like until you see yourself on television. I have a hard time watching it.
This story first appeared in the August 19, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: Rumors flew during Oscar season that some of your clients — Debra Messing and Cameron Diaz, specifically — had dropped you.
R.Z.: That wasn’t true. The irony of that was I was booked on jobs with them [at the time].
WWD: What’s the worst thing you’ve read about yourself?
R.Z.: They’re all ridiculous. [They say I’m] starving people, [I’m] getting drugs for people. Seriously, I have to have a migraine to take a Tylenol. The whole size zero thing, not one of my clients is a size zero. Not one. [They say] that all of my clients look the same. Are you going to tell me that Jennifer Garner is dressed like Cameron Diaz and Liv Tyler looks like Kate Hudson? It doesn’t make any sense. These people are just printing things to print things. It is what it is. You want to crawl up into a ball, you want to hide, you want to quit your job, you want to disappear. I’ve developed a bit of a thicker skin, but I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt, because it does.
WWD: What can viewers expect in season two?
R.Z.: It takes us through awards season, and to Paris. We do a lot of editorial shoots. We did shoots for Marie Claire, Glamour and V magazines.
WWD: The second season was shot just as the economy crashed in the fall. Do viewers see the impact of the recession on your business during the show?
R.Z.: All throughout awards season we felt it. For years designers would come out [to Los Angeles] and set up suites for 10 days and this year there were barely any suites. People couldn’t make a ton of dresses. [Designers would say], “We can’t make 10 custom-made dresses without knowing that any of them would be worn.” It’s a gamble. And it’s always been, but in a different economy they can say, “Oh, we’ll make them now and if no one wears them now, someone will wear them later.”
We’re in an industry that is about glitz and glamour and trends and luxury. For the last couple of years, it’s been sky’s the limit. Almost every bag manufacturer was putting out bags that were going up to $30,000 or more, in crocodile or whatever, and these were actually selling. At some point, that was going to go back down.
WWD: How have you adapted your business to serve clients in this economy?
R.Z.: We’ve toned it down a bit. Most of my clients are respectful of what’s going on, but we still want that aspirational fantasy. I always want to turn on my television and see so-and-so look like the most glamorous woman in the world. Personally, I find myself recycling what’s in my closet. I’m saying, remember that jacket, I’m going to wear it again. It forces you to look at what you have, what you don’t need and shop wisely.