Rachel Zoe is THE most iconic stylist of our generation. InStyle magazine recently hosted a beautiful dinner in honor of Rachel and her new womenswear collection. I thought, what a perfect time to have a conversation with Rachel and share with everyone the beauty of who she is inside, while enjoying the decadence of her clothing and riveting nature on the outside. InStyle magazine's West Coast Bureau Chief Glynis Costin said, "Rachel Zoe's new line is the collection that the magazine editors themselves want to wear." Now that, my friends is, ba-nan-as.
JK: Hi there!
RZ: Hi sweetie, how are you?
JK: Good! First I just want to share with you what I would like to do with this interview. My intention is to celebrate you. I want to take this time to revel in how much you have accomplished and how inspiring you are. I really want to take a look at your life because I believe that the most interesting people that are truly successful have fascinating stories and have made a lot of sacrifices to follow their hearts to reach their vision. I think everyone would love to know about the different facets of your life and choices. Especially right now, in such a pivotal time in your life with the release of your new women's line, and having your first child. In preparation for this interview I have to say, I have been having a Rachel Zoe [television show] marathon for the past two days.
RZ: [Laughs hard] Oh my God, I am so sorry about that.
JK: Yes! It is so funny and amazing! All of my friends and I have become addicted. We lay in bed together and watch back-to-back episodes.
RZ: You are so funny and so sweet, that is hugely flattering and I'm honored.
JK: What I realize from watching it is how warm, wonderful and loyal you are which is really a testament to who you are...
RZ:That's the thing, it kind of blows up in your face sometimes you know what I mean?
JK: Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I felt like I was watching a part of my own life. We both have our "teams" people that we work with and love that we bring in like family. It's not just a nine-to-five job that we have, it's our life.
RZ: Hell no. There is a price you pay for that. Very early on, I was told by my first boss that I wasn't tough enough to survive in this business. That's why I find it so ironic that people have this perception of me that's like this cold fashion bitch and whats so funny is that the people that work with me are like "really!?" It's very strange. I'm tough on myself, I'm not tough on others. Anyone that worked with me would say that I'm the easiest person to work for and and because I allow people to do their jobs and don't micromanage, they don't want to let me down so they put the pressure on themselves to not disappoint me which I think makes it tricky for them. I treat the members of my team like family, with the utmost trust and respect, and never anyone is beneath anybody, including myself. With that, I think you can pay a price because sometimes being nice you get taken advantage of. That has happened to me throughout my whole life so it only makes sense that it would happen in my career.
JK: How do you keep your heart open and be you and maintain the integrity of what you do as a business woman?
RZ: I have always had the conflict that I am a business woman and a career woman but I also tend to think as a woman. We tend to think very much with our hearts.
RZ: And you also need to think with your head.
RZ: So, I'm driven very much by my gut and instinct and that's what I live by. Especially when it comes to my career.
JK: Absolutely. I understand.
RZ: As a stylist, there are weeks when I spend seven days a week, eighteen hours a day with my team.
JK: More time than with your husband or family.
RZ: For sure! It's not a normal job when you can be with someone nine to five and go home and be with your friends and family. My father always warned me, "you don't have a lot of separation between your professional life slash personal, social life and there is a lot of risk that comes with that." You can't help but become close with the people that you are with that much. After the last time I was disappointed, I now come to expect it. The one instance where I was really burned and betrayed the most, I just had this huge wall and I was like, I literally don't know who to trust anymore. It's sad because I'm not that type of person. I'm someone who has always loved people, welcomed people, I want new people in my life. I think that you can't as a business woman, building this brand, [Rachel Zoe Inc.] I can't be naïve and say, "okay, I'm not letting these people in my life, in my close personal life and everyone's replaceable. I have a lot at stake.
RZ: You know, I think you do learn from every mistake and I don't regret any decisions I have made. I mean of course I would kick myself about a few things I've done but at the same time I would say that, I live by "That which does not kill you makes you stronger."
RZ: I am a thousand times stronger than I was even five years ago.
JK: When I thought, what makes Rachel Zoe so fascinating? I realized that you are so wildly successful because of you lead and style from the heart. You have this sixth sense to look within a person and see the beauty of who they are and draw out their best so they shine uniquely and individually on the carpet. Your clients [Cameron Diaz, Eva Mendes, Kate Hudson, etc.] are stunning. When did you realize that you had that ability?
RZ: I would still say I don't even know if I had that! [Laughs] I got into what I do because I love people. I always thought I would be a psychiatrist because I was fascinated and intrigued by people and I needed to meet new people and be with them all the time. That is one of the best things, as you know, about our business. We come into contact with the most fascinating people. Think about how many different people you meet just at one shoot.
JK: It's crazy! 20 people!
RZ: It's the best! With my clients, its really about having the patience and taking the time to understand who somebody is and what they are trying to achieve. Who they are as a person, as an actor or a musician, whatever they are. For example, when I'm working with Cameron [Diaz] each movie she does is so different. A "Shrek" film vs. "My Sister's Keeper" or "Bad Teacher." Those are going to be completely different people she wants to put on the carpet, she is very specific. So you have take that time to say, "Okay, well this, she's gonna be chic and elegant sexy. This, she's gonna be very young spirited and very casual. This she's gonna be a bit more sombre and more serious. It's really knowing who you are working with. The great thing about fashion is that its the best way of expressing who you are without having to speak.
JK: It is one of the most beautiful art forms.
RZ: That is the most fun thing about it! It's a lot of going with my gut and there is a risk. With the freakin' the press who has such strong opinions about what people wear.
JK: It's crazy!
RZ: There's a whole new dynamic now. A part of my job at this point is to say to them [my clients]: "OK, this is my favorite but I'm going to always gravitate towards the more fashion forward. This is going to be the most innovative and exciting, but I'm telling you right now the tabloids may destroy you for this." My clients don't really give sh*t and that's kind of great.
JK: That is great, they should go with what they feel beautiful in! That's another thing I wanted to ask to you about because it's like crisis management, sometimes. Heaven forbid someone wear an outfit the press or a random person doesn't like! It's ridiculous.
JK: How do you deal with scrutiny of A. being a celebrity yourself now. Because you really are the first stylist to become a celebrity. And B. How do you handle that moment when you first realize: "Oh no, my client just got bashed for the outfit I put them in."
RZ: Thankfully, it has happened very few times.
JK: Of course not.
RZ: To get destroyed in the media when you worked so hard to look really special, I don't think it feels good for anybody. For myself, I don't care who kills me for what I wear because I love fashion. I am a stylist. I am in the service business. I dress celebrities. I dress people. I can't ever think of myself a someone who is a celebrity, I never will. That is all just the media bringing me to the attention. I think it's very nice sometimes and kind.
JK: What is the blessing and the curse of being who you are now?
RZ:[Laughs] So, I think there are pros and cons which is why I don't take it to heart. At the end of every day I'm the same person I've always been. I just really want to be home with my son and my husband. I think its very flattering but I think it will go away in five seconds. If people stop watching my show or whatever, there'll just be no more me. [laughs]
JK: This world is a flash pan of celebrity, it's true. However, I believe that your work as a stylist and a brand is so incredible that you will be remembered in fashion history as an icon. I grew up with Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld and many other genius designers. From the age of 14 years old I walked every one of their shows until I went into acting. Looking back I think "how amazing is it that I was a part of sharing what they created!?"
RZ: It's the coolest thing ever!
JK: I remember when Alexander McQueen was wrapping soles of high heels to my feet with shrink wrap for his first show.
JK: What are the most fulfilling and satisfying moments in your journey so far?
RZ: The most recent is becoming a designer.
RZ:It definitely has been one of the most exciting things in the world. But starting out when I was 22 and it was the height...how old are you now?
JK:: I'm 32.
RZ: So I was... Oh god I'm so old! I'm 39. When you started modeling, I started in fashion.
JK: When I was fourteen, it was Tom Ford for Gucci and that was my first fashion show.
RZ: It's the same time we're referencing. To grow up in that time when fashion was at the ultimate height of glamour, supermodels and designers. And being very young, very green and starry-eyed, looking up to all of them. Then ending up being front and center at the shows and having the honor to become a part of their journeys. Working with them, designing and collaborating with them has been definitely the height of my career! That for me is the biggest reward of my career. Having the relationship with Mr. Valentino, knowing Tom Ford and dying for him. Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci the list goes on. Having my dream, my heros become a reality in my life has been everything. My respect for women like Diane Von Furstenburg and Donna Karan. Even now, I feel like that 22 year old staring at them like they're Brad Pitt, [laughs] you know?
JK: Yes and I think that is the most precious thing to have. That ability to take a step back and while you're in the moment, really take in how truly blessed your life is. To be able to be with these people who are masters, who are so inspiring.
RZ:This year I got the chance, during the Oscars, to work with Tom Ford, Donatella Versace, and Mr. Valentino. It's just one of those things where in the moment I don't realize it and my team kinda yells at me like: "Why are you not freaking out?!" I remember one time Tom Ford walked into my office. The day he came in, I legitimately think everybody just froze.
RZ: It was really funny and I've known him for years! But at the same time you just think: "really?! Like really?!" Cause he's just flawless and he's FORD, you know?
JK: Of course!
RZ: These people are my celebrities, they are my heros. I just don't really get over that. I don't really care if they are my friends. I still die for them.
JK: You have already achieved so much. What in your heart is your dream both as a designer and personally with your life? What is on the next thing on horizon for you?
RZ: The last time I remember saying "I want this!" or "I'm dreaming of that," was when I was about 25. I dreamed of being a part of this world where I was able to work with these designers and not just dream about it and have that fantasy become real. I have stopped, sort of, setting goals and dreaming because I found that if you don't achieve it you have a sense of a let down.
JK: I understand that.
RZ: And I'm a totally Virgo, so I don't take failure well.
JK: Yeah, me too! Virgo rising. I understand.
RZ: You get it! Ok, so it's like, never good enough. You always wanna do more, be better. I will say that being a designer was something I was most scared of because of the high regard I have for them. I said, "Ooh, God, I never want someone judging my designs and I don't ever want to have to always be having to out do myself."
JK: It is very challenging. When I watched designers have to go from ready to wear to resort to couture season after season with barely any time, I was stunned. A lot of people have no idea the amount of work and creativity it takes to design so many collections a year.
RZ: I want to know what is in Karl Lagerfeld's mind. His ability to create the most beautiful, flawless collections. Whether it is ready to wear or couture or the 1,800 seasons he puts out a year!
JK: Oh My God! When I first started working with him, I did Karl Lagerfeld, Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. The man was designing three different lines with 50 looks in each! It's insane!
JK: What a brilliant human being, truly.
RZ:Look at Marc Jacobs! Three lines, Marc, Marc by Marc, Louis Vuitton. Each one of those he as minimum 4 of collections a year.
How do you fill up as a designer now and a stylist. Where do you get your inspiration from?
RZ: I have been designing in my mind for a very long time. I just never thought I would be able to execute it. I think I will always have the inspirations of Yves Saint Laurent, the '70s, Halston, Givenchy and Dior from the past. Bardot, Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger, all these women who always resonate in my mind will influence me. Always. I think there will always be classics within my line and I want it to be affordable luxury. I don't want to compete with the masters, ever. Also, in terms of my dream. I have to say after having my son, I am currently living my dream.
RZ: I am the happiest I have been in my entire life. I haven't been in a bad mood since my son was born. I was petrified to be a mother. I was petrified to try and do my job and be a mother.
JK: What was it in the moment that made you feel so scared?
RZ:, I know myself. I know how much I love children. I know I have to give 100% to everything that's important to me. I can't do anything just a little or do anything halfway. I can't.
JK: I love that about you, and it is important to give your all in what you aspire to do. But that is also a very challenging trait to have. It will push you to grow so much as a person to be aware of what you really need and want.
RZ: The problem is I always knew that when I became a mother I would need to give this child 100% of my love and attention. I was very scared I wouldn't be able to give my career the same amount of love and attention that I would need to and always need to.
JK: After you had your son, how did you learn to maintain your balance to be a mother and work full time?
RZ: What I realized after my son was born is that I actually can do both. You make decisions differently. I find I'm much more focused and my time is more efficient then I ever thought it could to be. Stella McCartney taught that to me. You really need to speak with working mothers to understand.
JK: What advice did Stella give you?
RZ: She's very accomplished in her life and clearly hands on. I asked: "How do you do it?" She said: "My two week trips became three days, my three days jobs became one day." I didn't understand, and you can't understand until you do it. When little things start to piss me off and I start to get worked up, I know it sounds super corny but, I look into Skyler's eyes and I'm like, what do I care about, really? This doesn't matter, its all gonna be fine, its all going to work out. My priorities are different. I love my job just as much, I just have another full time job now.
JK: It must be so much more fulfilling.
RZ: He really is everything. I love Rodger [her husband] we have been together twenty years, I love him so deeply and unbelievably but the love for your child is such a different kind of love. I can't say it's better or more then your husband, it's just different. I want to protect him with everything I have, I want him with me at all times. He comes to all my shoots, my fittings, my meetings. He is just amazing, he is a ray of light.
JK: After having your son what have you learned most about yourself?
RZ: I feel it has centered me in a way I didn't know I could be centered because I have been consumed by my job for the last fifteen, sixteen years. My job was at the forefront of my mind all the time and I think that is what happens when you don't have a child. And I'm not saying everyone should have a child, that is a woman's choice and there is no right or wrong. What I did know is that in ten years from now I would be very sad if I did not have one.
JK: Especially people like you that clearly have so much to give.
RZ: That is exactly what it is.
JK: You start to realize that you have so much love and so much creativity to share, that God or whatever you believe in will give you the energy to disperse that in ways greater then you ever could imagine.
RZ: One hundred percent. I didn't know myself well enough to know that I had to give that love to a child, I had to. I also wanted to look at that child and say "you're the product of mommy and daddy," because my husband and I have the strongest love in the world. We live for each other. We look at our son everyday and we're like, "oh my God, we get to keep you and your ours, this is the most fun thing ever!"
JK: Would you say Rodger is your greatest champion?
RZ: Oh yes, for sure. I would say both Rodger and my father, I am a total daddy's girl. His support, and from both my parents but with my father he has been so involved in my career and is obsessed with fashion now. Without Rodger, I couldn't be who I am, where I am, I couldn't be anything without him. He has been my partner since I was nineteen.
JK: It is so wonderful to see that. While watching your show I thought, he just loves her through everything. That ability you have to see the beauty in others around you, he has that gift for you. He does for you what you do for everyone else in your world.
RZ: Really, its like we share the same breath. I'm so grossly attached to him which is so weird because everyone is like, she is this independent... I'm the most independent co-dependent.
JK: [Laughs] Ah!
RZ: He is very rational, very pragmatic. Sometimes I can be irrational, [sing-song] like, la-la-la, its all fine, why can't that happen, da-da-da. He is the ying to my yang. I'm grateful forever. My sister calls us "The Notebook" couple. That's one of my favorite movies of all time. That and "Almost Famous."
JK: Well my dear, that's it! I think we got it.
RZ: You know I am die hard HuffPo. I have it on my I Phone. I am so glad your writing for them, its so intelligent and dope. It's the one I read.
JK: It's the best, truly the place for a great conversation.
RZ: I love it. See you later!
In closing, after speaking to Rachel I am again inspired by the joy she exudes, the vulnerability and confidence she so beautifully shares and as it says at the end of Rachel Zoe's Resort collection look book "Eyes closed or open, just dream."
You can pre-order Rachel Zoe's new collection here.
For the amazing photos from this event please check out InStyle's gallery.
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