The Paris Delimma

Rachel talks about her illness, her childhood as an aspiring fashionista, and her Fashion Week conflict.

 

In this episode you were diagnosed with vertigo. The doctor says vertigo can have varying degrees of seriousness - was yours chronic?

It's been pretty chronic and constant for the past six months. It's pretty much ruined my life for the past several months.

Is it because of stress?

That's what they say. They say it's part of a virus. Vertigo is something that is almost always brought on by stress and traveling and it's basically an inner ear problem. It's an inflammation of a nerve, and it basically causes you to feel motion sick while you're on land. I end up getting that on and off for days at a time from the minute I wake up until I go to sleep. It's a disaster and there's not much you can do to get rid of it. That's the problem. There is no real treatment for it. So you have to just live miserably with it. Apparently it affects over 3 and a half million Americans every year, so it's not that uncommon. It's just something that isn't fixable. It's a nightmare. They say it's brought on by tremendous stress. I find that I get a relapse when I'm extremely stressed and exhausted and traveling.

Have you tried changing your lifestyle?

You know, the answer to that is yes. But in the same breath, I would tell you that it's almost impossible for me to change my lifestyle. I'd have to make drastic changes and adjustments. The thing is, I wish it were a choice, but at the end of the day it's definitely given me a lot of time to think and reevaluate the way I live. I think I can do everything when in fact I can't. My body is just showing me that I can't do everything anymore.

Have Brad and Taylor been helpful stepping up?

Yes, they’ve been fantastic. I have a hard time delegating responsibility, but my clients and my team have been amazing in covering for me during the really bad times. And there have been many.

You hold an exhibition of your jewelry at Decades...

That was amazing. That was one of the greatest things I've ever had the privilege of working on. It was taking something I loved and that I've been collecting and working on for years and years, and actually doing something great with it, which was incredible. I reached out to a friend of mine who owns Decades and we tried to do something amazing with all of my stuff. Because I mean clearly I don't need it all. You get to a point and a certain age where you're like, OK what do I do with all of this? Ovarian cancer is something that is very close to me and something that I support, and so when the opportunity came to sell my jewelry and I thought it was perfect. What better reason to sell your jewelry than to raise money towards ovarian cancer research?

 

Was it hard to part with your jewelry?

Oh yeah. That's almost why I had to do it for charity. When you're doing it for charity it kind of makes it all OK. Doing something for charity is much more of an incentive.

And you sold the piece you wore when you first met Rodger?

It actually wasn't when I first met him - it was a necklace that I had bought and it was the style of jewelry that I was wearing a lot at the time. I'm kind of superstitious, and I was wearing that necklace when Rodge and I first fell in love, and I just wore that necklace all of the time. Things were so good with us, so that necklace was a constant throughout all of our dates and our time together. But basically I hadn't worn it in 15 years and I decided it was time to give it up and to give someone else that luck and karma. And it was one of the first pieces that sold.

Do you think your interest in fashion started with your mom?

Yeah for sure. You know I was reading Vogue at age 10. I was always 13 going on 30 or 3 going on 18. For some stranger reason I was always in a hurry to grow up. But of course now I'm a hurry to stay young. Life is so ironic like that. You're in such a rush to get older because you want to be a woman and you want to be glamorous. I was ready to work before I even started college. I didn't want to go to college - I just wanted to work. I kind of knew what I wanted. I knew I wanted to do something in fashion and glamour, but I didn't know I could make a career out of doing something that I loved to do. I got lucky and I worked my ass off for the past 15 years. I was in love with glamour and fashion for as long as I can remember. I dressed my first client when I was 8 years old. He was my parents' best friends' son. I didn't like what he was wearing to school. So I went over to his house when he wasn't home, I went in his closet and I laid out outfits - like khakis, jackets, button-ups, and sweaters down to the socks and the shoes - and I labeled each outfit from Monday to Friday. Because he would wear track suits every day and I hated it! I never in a million years thought I would make a career out of it. I didn't even know a career existed.

In this episode you tell Taylor and Brad they can both go to Paris Fashion Week, but inevitably one of them has to stay behind. Who deserved to go?

They both deserved to go and in a dream scenario they both should have gone. They both deserved to be there. They are my family and they both should have been there. The tricky situation with this one is that Taylor generally doesn't like going to fashion shows, so Brad and I are fashion dates. Brad gets dressed up and we coordinate outfits sometimes and we have a lot of fun doing it. So instinctively you would think 'OK, Brad really wants to do this.' But for the first time ever, Taylor wanted to go. And Taylor deserved to go, because Taylor is senior to Brad. At the end of the day you put in a certain amount of time in a company, and you're senior. Taylor has never expressed interest in going to events, but I think because she did, I needed to respect that. But when it came down to it, I think she almost couldn't live with the guilt of taking Paris away from Brad. And the funny thing is, there were parts of Fashion Week that Taylor would have loved, because of course it's Paris and it's Fashion Week and it's amazing, but there were parts of it when she would have killed herself. All those people posing... But at the end of the day, Taylor 100% deserved to go. There was no right or wrong answer. They both should have come. That's the bottom line. Brad went because of his love and excitement for it, and Taylor should have gone because she's earned it and she's excited about it. I mean how do you look at someone and say, "Yes I told you that you were going to Paris, but now you're not going?" You can't. That's the liability of being very close with your employees. When you're that close, it makes it much, much harder to say no.

Rodger asks you for advice on his wardrobe and you tell him you're off duty...when your friends or Rodger are asking for wardrobe advice do you want them to just give you a break?

It's very tricky, especially when it comes to Rodger, because I sort of, well, did this to him. Believe me, when I met Rodge he was not spending much time getting ready. He's surrounded by people like Brad, and designers and everyone always focusing on who you're wearing and who does your hair, it's going to effect him. I think that's just what happens. Sometimes I'm just so insane, that I just say, "You gotta be kidding me baby, I'm so overwhelmed right now, I clearly can't get MYSELF ready right now, and you want me to dress you!?" [Laughs.] But most of the time what happens is I tell him to leave me alone and make his own decision. So he'll get himself ready, and then we get in the elevator and I'll turn to him and say, "What are you wearing?" It's definitely tricky for him.

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