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The Million-dollar Question

Rachel Zoe opens up about dealing with the tabloids.

By Rachel Zoe

How is New York fashion week different than other fashion weeks?

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New York is my home turf. I always feel a sense of comfort and safety there because it's what I know best. The great thing about New York is that it's very real and it's not very pretentious. That's not to say that Europe is pretentious, but it is a bit less formal than, say, Paris. I think New York gets better every year. The great thing about it is that it really develops and supports new, young talent such as Rodarte, Erin Fetherston, and Jenni Kayne and all these designers that are so brilliantly talented. I think a lot of them come to New York because they know they're going to get support there. New York is just fun and has a lot of energy, but it's extra hard for me because I always have clients in town and they're always doing something, so I'm always running between fittings and shows.

With so many events taking place, how do you plan your Fashion Week schedule?

We get something called the fashion calendar - sort of the master list of every show and every event. Then I look at what my work obligations are and there are definitely shows that I never, ever miss. That would be Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Zac Posen. In New York, a lot of my friends are designers and I really do use them a lot so it's always great to go to the show and see what they're doing.

Have you ever considered keeping a studio in NYC?

I'm actually looking for one right now. It's not that easy. But yes, I'm looking for a studio and a home in New York. I spend a lot of time there and New York hotel living gets a little tiring.

Brad had an adjoining room with you at the hotel in New York. How did that happen and how did you deal with that?

Whenever we stay in that room we use that adjoining room for meetings and fittings and wardrobe. That room is normally meant for work purposes only. That room has no privacy and there's a very thin door, so I was very surprised they put Brad there. We really need that room for work, wardrobe racks, and meetings, so it was kind of a scandal at the time.

He ended up staying with Taylor...

That was one of the funniest things I've seen. And it was so real. Taylor's like, "No talking. No touching. No eating." It was amazing.

In this episode, we see the effect the gossip blogs have on you. How do you feel about that part of your life? Why do you think people target you?

You know, if I could answer that it would be the million-dollar question with the million-dollar answer. I never quite understood, nor does anyone in my life understand, why I am such a moving target. It's a very surreal thing for me - it's extremely hurtful, and I'm extremely sensitive. All I've done with my life in the last fifteen years is work and I've made tremendous sacrifices in my personal life for my work. I still to this day don't understand why I am such a victim of the press. That's not to say the press hasn't been very kind at times, but unfortunately what sticks in people's minds is the negative press. It hurts. A lot of what people write is the absolute opposite of what actually happened. I don't understand why journalists don't fact check, why they just have the freedom to just write whatever they want. I could just sit there and lie, you know? At the end of the day, over the last two years, I've really managed to develop a much thicker skin, but on the inside it still really hurts. There are certain things that really upset me more than others. I think the same ones you hear over and over, it's sort of like, "Okay, broken record. I'm over it. Shut up and go away." Then there's one that will come at you from a very credible publication writing two pages of lies that you just can't believe. I'm constantly blindsided. I think when I'm really tired and really overworked I'm really more sensitive to it. When I'm sleep deprived and at my wit's end, I just cave in and come undone.

Do you still read things about yourself or have you just stopped?

It's funny - I've tried it both ways. I've tried looking and I've tried not looking. Most of the time it just hits me in the face because it's on things that I actually read. But sometimes it's really a tabloid-ly, disgusting website like a Perez Hilton or something that is never kind. First of all, I never go on Perez Hilton, but inevitably people e-mail me something and say, "He's such a jerk. Why would he say that about you?" and then I'm like, "Well, now I know!" It's hard to keep it a secret sometimes. The New York Times was not very kind to me either. A very kind journalist wrote an article two days later about me called, "Defending Rachel Zoe," and she basically disputed everything that was written in the Times. I think what happened with that Times article was that a lot of people called me and said, "We know we can't hide the New York Times from you, we know you're gonna see this." The thing that hurt was that for some reason, the journalist blamed me for the state of the world right now and blamed me for what she feels is a very superficial environment. I actually think quite the contrary. People watch television and movies because they want to remove themselves from their everyday life - it's an escape. This very kind journalist in the Huffington Post wrote this very kind rebuttal. The irony about the Times article was that people's reaction was, "Wow, now I want to go watch." She actually brought more attention to the show. It's less hurtful on Perez Hilton, but when it's the New York Times, it hits below the belt.

You go to see Giles Mendel and he uses a lot of fur. I know at fashion week there are a lot of protesters. What do you say to people who are anti-fur?

To be honest, most of my clients don't wear fur. My personal take on the "fur issue" is to each his own. It's a personal choice.

In this episode, Rodger struggles to find time with you. How do you make time for each other? Rodger and I have been together every minute of every day for sixteen years. Well, I wouldn't say every minute, but certainly every day for sixteen years, except when I'm traveling for work. We make it a point to be together all the time. In fact, he comes with me to Paris in July for Couture. The reality of it is that when I'm not with him, I am not happy, especially when I'm traveling. I'm in Milan right now and I wish every minute that he was here. I think that being together as long as we have has made our relationship easier. Very often people say, "Sixteen years? That must be so hard!" But it's actually not hard. If it's the right thing, it's not hard. We miss each other when we are apart, but I think he realizes that after years of me being in the business during Fashion Week, he knows he will not see me. You can be sure that immediately after work I'm with him every single minute that I can be. It's really just during Fashion Week and during the Oscars that I don't really get to see him.

We begin see your "glam squad" in this episode. We're introduced to Joey, your hair and make-up guy. Has he worked with your clients before?

He's actually worked with a few of my clients when he was in L.A. and sometimes in New York. I've been working with Joey for about two years. He's fantastic and a very dear friend. He plays a bigger part in later episodes.

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