I started watching Bravo Media's The Rachel Zoe Project as an antidote to the unpleasant symptoms of my pregnancy a few years ago. Pregnancy has a way of getting you in touch with your earthy, organic self, but sometimes too much so. What better way to counteract new and scary biological processes than with glam?
Rachel Zoe gave me an overdose of glam and then some. I sat in front of the screen transfixed by a woman who was gloriously obsessed with couture.
In its 5th season, The Rachel Zoe Project is a reality series that follows celebrity stylist Zoe, her husband Rodger, and their fashion team as they grow her business. Anne Hathaway, Cameron Diaz, and Jennifer Lawrence are among the A-list clients Zoe has styled. In the past couple of seasons, Zoe took it to the next level by designing her own line of clothing and accessories together with other ventures.
Zoe leads a highly stylized existence overflowing with beautiful couture. At times, it's as if her life is airbrushed like the photo shoots she's famous for styling.
However, the series does a good job of depicting the mechanics behind the gloss--it's not easy. Painfully comical are the scenes in which Zoe and Rodger are dressing to go out. Getting ready for a polo match is a chaotic endeavor that takes on the importance of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Until Rachel Zoe, I had never witnessed someone having a true peak experience over clothes and accessories. Characterized by overwhelming joy, rapture, and oneness with the universe, peak experiences are the aha moments of life.
This had me going back and forth in my mind: rapture and oneness over a designer shoe? Shoe. Oneness with universe. Shoe. Oneness with universe. Shoe. In fairness, couture is an art form, and art is often cited as a trigger for peak experiences along with sex, music, religion, and children. But still, a shoe?
Before I get judgy, I need to try to remember my first Gucci handbag given to me on my 16th birthday. Rapturous about sums that experience up.
There are a couple of things that separate Rachel Zoe from other devoted fashion divas. For one, Zoe seems to be captivated by the intrinsic value of the object. She gets outside of herself to see the inherent beauty in an Oscar de la Renta dress or a Chanel suit.
For some in the industry, you get the sense that it's all about them adorning their bodies. It takes on an air of narcissism that is distasteful.
The second thing distinguishing Zoe from the pack is that styling seems to be a calling for her. She's mentioned that glamour and all it's accoutrements were important to her since childhood, and is always aware of styling as an outlet for her creative expression.
A calling comes from an authentic place deep inside ourselves and is in fact, profound. A profound calling to celebrity styling--oh the paradox!
As you watch Zoe work in a state of flow, it seems to the viewer that she is in the moment and doesn't have an end goal like fame or money. Not that she isn't trying to get those things, it just seems like she would be some part of the fashion world whether she achieved the cherries on top or not. You get the sense that if she were a Midwestern mom, she would have the chicest family and even neighbors in suburbia because she couldn't help but use her talent.
As I've thought about it, I realize that Rachel Zoe provided me with more than a simple escape from the nausea and swelling of my pregnancy. She provided me with a Breakfast at Tiffany's moment.
The anxiety that you feel when you are pregnant is a world away from everyday fears. Holly Golightly, the heroine of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, captured what I felt. "...the blues are because you're getting fat or maybe it's been raining too long." But with the mean reds, "You're afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don't know what you're afraid of."
Of course, the way to escape the mean reds is Tiffany's, because how could anything bad ever happen where everything is glistening and glamorous? Very similar to the place Zoe puts herself and her viewers. How could anything bad ever happen when your wearing Prada? Rachel Zoe helped me get over the mean reds.
It makes me wonder how often Rachel Zoe gets the mean reds and how much her fashion passion is an escape. Sometimes the mean reds do need to be faced head on in a painful, yet in-depth way. Tiffany's can't always be enough.
The motto of The Rachel Zoe Project is "fashion is everything." Zoe now has a beautiful baby boy who is so far beyond any accessory it can't be defined, yet somehow redefines everything. It's nothing short of profoundly "maj."
Follow Caroline Presno on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drcaroline09