Tuesday, September 26, 2006

FASHION FIX: Fashion's No 1 stylist, or just a great big zero?

Here's a lil article about "celebrity stylist" Rachel Zoe. It's quite long but I thought it was a fun read for all you little fashionistas:

Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe swept into London last week to find a city poised to loathe every inch of her infamous size 0 frame. The great weight debate had rumbled through fashion week and was reaching a climax just as Zoe — an American fashionista the Los Angeles Times once claimed was “single-handedly bringing anorexia back” — hit town. It couldn’t have been more awkward if Glenn Hoddle had turned up at the Paralympics. Zoe — her name rhymes with faux — put a brave face on things. “I love London so much,” she simpered to guests at designer Julien Macdonald’s pre-show bash at the Sanderson hotel on Wednesday. “I’d move here if it weren’t for the weather. I’m the palest I’ve been in ages.” Being pale simply doesn’t cut it with the former fashion journalist. Neither do baggy jeans, trainers, small sunglasses or, God forbid, body fat. Zoe, 34 (unkind fashion types insist she looks 10 years older) is a stylist and for the past 18 months the look she has devised for her long list of celebrity clients — pin thin, orange tan, tousled mane; think Brigitte Bardot on crack — has come to define modern beauty. For those not up to speed, being a stylist means Zoe helps famous people (mostly young actresses such as Cameron Diaz and Kate Beckinsale) choose what to wear to red carpet events, photo shoots or sometimes just to their local Starbucks. She charges $6,000 a day for this privilege (with that kind of money, she should be able to fix her face). No wonder the closets of her Beverly Hills home boast more than 400 coats and “literally countless” pairs of shoes. Though not a designer, photographer or magazine editor, Zoe has become one of the most powerful women in fashion. The ensembles she chooses for “my girls” fill the pages of magazines such as OK! or Heat and add millions to the profits of her designer friends, who adore her. But her most devoted clients, such as Nicole Richie, Keira Knightley and wild child actress Lindsay Lohan, are decidedly scrawny and all battle speculation about their weight. Known as the Zoe-bots, they have matching toothpick arms and sunken faces barely able to support the fashionably enormous sunglasses their svengali encourages them to wear. To her detractors Zoe — who weighs no more than a kitten herself — has therefore replaced Kate Moss as the number one culprit for society’s collective eating disorder. Some say she is the architect of size 0 mania — a fad for super skinniness that is spreading from Zoe’s home town of LA around the world. After a model died from heart failure brought on by fasting at a fashion show in Madrid two weeks ago, the Spanish capital banned size 0 (equivalent to a British size 4) models from catwalks. Last week there was much debate over whether Britain should follow suit, with designers Sir Paul Smith and Allegra Hicks calling for the industry to stop using girls with a body mass index below 18 (officially unhealthy). And Zoe’s view? “There’s a small grey area between being too skinny and being a thin person,” she has said. Though she also thinks “an eating disorder is a very sad thing — it kills people. I would never in a million years tell a client they had to lose weight. There’s a size for everybody”, adding in her defence, “People don’t realise that I’ve worked with people who are size 8 and 10.” Huge, fat, disgusting size 8-10 COWS.

Though many will agree that there is indeed a “size for everybody” some find it mystifying that a “stylist” has become so famous in the first place. But Zoe is part of a new guard of celebrity valets starting to become as well known as their charges. Phillip Bloch (who chooses Halle Berry’s Oscar gowns) and Patricia Field (who styled the girls on Sex and the City) are household names in America, and Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott (Nicole Kidman’s stylist) has become a celeb in her own right. In a business where nothing sells like celebrity, Hollywood stylists are the new emperors of fashion. “Stylists are now critical to the fashion market and Rachel is incredibly important in the industry,” said Amy Astley, editor of Teen Vogue. “She has kick-started many of the trends you see today. She, and others like her, have opened up the fashion industry so it’s not just for insiders. Now everyone knows about labels because they read about their celebrities wearing them.”

Born Rachel Zoe Rosenzweig in New York, she was raised in a wealthy New Jersey suburb by art collector parents. Though the house was filled with Frank Stellas and Barbara Krugers, Zoe was only interested in her mother’s closet. “It was like a candy store,” she has said of the racks of vintage Dior and Balmain. At 13 her mother took her to Paris. “I had saved every dime and dollar, and I walked right into Louis Vuitton and bought a bag.” It now lives with hundreds of others in a “foyer” in her walk-in wardrobe. Later she studied sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she met her husband, Roger Berman, an investment banker. They don’t have children, just a California mansion decorated in Missoni prints, Christmas holidays in St Barts and summers in St Tropez. Zoe says Roger “keeps her sane”, but he refuses to speak to her during Oscar season. After college she moved to New York to worked at YM and Gotham magazines, before breaking into celebrity styling. Her first clients were pop singers such as Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys — famous, but terminally unchic. Then she moved to LA and dropped the Rosenzweig on the advice of an agent. In early 2004 Zoe got a job working for Nicole Richie, daughter of the soul singer Lionel, and Paris Hilton’s sidekick on the reality TV show The Simple Life. “Nicole showed up to meet me in an airport wearing a sweatsuit,” she once recalled, “with a leopard-print neck pillow tied around her neck and an ‘I Love LA’ cap and her hair in pig tails. I think she was doing it to torture me.”

Richie, according to mean-spirited gossip mags, was in a “chunky” phase. Not for long. As her clothes became more stylish (Zoe described her as “my little Barbie doll”) her body began to shrink. She took to wearing a red bracelet which people assumed signalled she was part of a group called the “friends of Ana”, and therefore anorexic. Richie said she wore it for religious reasons, but it still drew attention to her freakishly thin wrists. “The smallest on any human being over the age of 12,” Zoe has said. Zoe’s other clients were beginning to disappear too. Jessica Simpson, the pop singer, and Mischa Barton, star of television hit The OC, looked merely willowy in Zoe’s trademark skinny jeans and floaty, disco-inspired cocktail dresses — but shockingly thin in their bikinis. “That girl Rachel Zoe definitely has something to do with (the skinny trend),” said one gossip mag journalist. “I’ve seen her eat — and she doesn’t. It’s the classic ‘living for clothes, dying for fashion’.” Another stylist claimed: “I’ve worked with Rachel all day on a shoot, and basically, she drank a giant latte and smoked a bunch of cigarettes.” Zoe finds such criticism grating. “I don’t think it’s fair to say that I’m responsible because I’m a thin person, that because I’m influencing their style I’m influencing what they eat. There was this crazy rumour that I was getting diet pills from Mexico and distributing them. I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve never even tried cocaine. I don’t do drugs — I’m too much of a control freak’.” Nevertheless, a picture of 19-year-old Lohan seemed to show most of her ribs were visible on her back. And yet perhaps we should have been worried for her wallet as much her waistline. Lohan took Zoe with her to Europe to promote her film Herbie: Fully Loaded in 2005. For the two-week trip they brought 10 trunks of clothes, with Lohan changing outfits three or more times a day. No surprise then to learn that, according to the American magazine Life & Style Weekly, the actress spent more than $1m on clothes and accessories last year. “Her closets are overflowing with things like $8,000 Prada dresses and $2,000 Balenciaga bags,” Zoe confessed. “She has so many clothes she never even wears some of them.” Though Women’s Wear Daily recently called the Zoe look “tired”, she came to London to style Macdonald’s catwalk show. The worry is that, by working with one of Britain’s leading designers, Zoe will bring her scary-thin LA aesthetic to bear on the Brits. “Oh no, we’re much too sensible for that,” says a celebrity photographer, “and Rachel is actually very down to earth, especially for the fashion industry. Yes she’s thin, but she’s not telling anyone else to be.” A nice theory, but next May Warner Books will publish Style: A to Zoe, in which the stylist and her famous friends such as Tom Ford and Naomi Campbell will offer tips on how to look fabulous — ie, impossibly thin. Then Zoe has said she wants to start her own fashion label. The well-covered women of Britain might prefer she do so in California. [source]

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

who has time to read stuff this long? tragic. shorter = funner in my book.

S. Pisaster said...

She does put some nice things on Richie, but I gotta wonder who would take style advice from a 34 year old who looks like my grandmother. (yes I'm catty, but damn. I look at her skin and think "she'd make a really nice handbag.")

OldWiseOne said...

Great article. I love how they refer to Cameron Diaz and Kate Beckinsale as "young actresses" but Richie and Lohan are "devoted clients"

Anon 7:47 if your ADD doesn't allow you to focus long enough to read 7 paragraphs then why not skip over it.

Anonymous said...

It's not supposed to be funny. It's an actual article.

Anonymous said...

There isn't any mention of the author of this article on the web. Is who wrote it too ashamed to admit it? Does anyone know who wrote it?