Rachel Zoe is getting a media makeover.
The stylist, who graduated to celebrity status with a reality TV show and a fashion line, is expanding her business by hosting a nighttime TV talk show on Lifetime and making her fashion e-zine The Zoe Report shoppable.
Premiering Sept. 24 at 10:30 p.m. on Lifetime, following “Project Runway,” “Fashionably Late with Rachel Zoe” promises to include the bons mots of Derek Blasberg, editor-at-large at Harper’s Bazaar, and Zoe’s husband, Rodger Berman, along with guest appearances from the famous and fashionable.
The show marks a return to TV for Zoe. She previously produced and starred in “The Rachel Zoe Project,” which, in the course of five years, helped elevate her profile from the behind-the-scenes stylist who gussied up then-clients such as Anne Hathaway to an oft-photographed fashion entrepreneur who oversees a namesake clothing line and collaborations with brands such as Jockey. That show also broadcast her quirky catchphrases — words such as “bananas,” “die” and “maj,” delivered in Zoe’s high-pitched, staccato cadence — that signaled her approval.
The project is also the fulfillment of her childhood dream. “Honestly, since I was 13, I had always wanted to do a talk show,” said Zoe, who studied sociology and psychology in college because, she said, “I was always fascinated by people.”
For the forthcoming eight half-hour episodes, Zoe said she hasn’t started filming anything other than the pilot. The show is produced by Hudsun Media, with Michael Rourke, Kay O’Connell, Zoe and Berman serving as executive producers. Other executive producers include Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and David Hillman from Lifetime. Among Zoe’s dream guests are Gwyneth Paltrow, Gwen Stefani and Jessica Alba. To make people feel at ease, she’s setting the chatter in the penthouse of her corporate headquarters on Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue. What the show won’t be is serious, emotional or tabloid-tainted like the one hosted by Jerry Springer.
“It’s definitely going to be lighthearted and fun and fashion and style-centric,” Zoe said. As for christening new words into the fashion lingo, Zoe said it’s never intentional. “But who knows what will come,” she said. “There is no predicting what will come out of my mouth.”
In addition, Zoe is also letting readers of The Zoe Report shop the content and digital advertisements posted on the site. As an investor in Los Angeles-based Bringhub, the Web publication is the first to go live with a shopping cart that lets readers make purchases in a single transaction rather than being diverted to different retailers. It has already been testing the technology with plans to fully launch it this month.
Having inked deals with three other publishers, Bringhub is in talks with additional companies. Bustle, whose namesake site provides content on topics ranging from fashion and entertainment to general news, is set to launch with the Bringhub technology in August.
Bringhub works by tapping into retailers’ existing infrastructure, abiding by their return policies and shipping systems. In most cases, without the Bringhub technology, a reader would be rerouted to another site, where the transaction would then take place. At its best, Bringhub’s technology could prove an answer for publishers in search of a revenue stream online, where the idea of paying for content turns off many readers.
“We’re making digital advertisements shoppable,” said Bringhub chief executive officer and cofounder Dominik Pantelides. “So Calvin Klein, for example, their fall collection comes out and they have an image advertisement. What we can do is, in the cart [window pop-up] we can sell their complete fall collection without the consumer leaving the page.”
Because companies aren’t handling the payment or fulfillment, publishers don’t see the move as a transition into retail.
“All of the product in Bringhub — the purchase, the fulfillment — is all handled by the retailer, so we will continue to be a partner to the retailers or the brands we feature,” said Tom Balamaci, managing director of The Zoe Report. “We’re not taking credit cards or boxing product up. Nordstrom would still do that. Our goal in all of this is to make it super simple and seamless for the reader.”
At the end of the day, it’s about keeping eyeballs on a site and not diverting clicks to a competitor or elsewhere online. Balamaci pointed out that it’s a matter of making sure customers are satisfied.
“The user experience is the most valuable piece here,” he said. “If the reader’s not happy, it doesn’t matter if the publisher or retailer is. [The reader will] just go somewhere else.”