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Under Pressure

Rachel Zoe talks about the economy, babies, and fashion emergencies.

This episode we see you at the tail end of fashion week and you're dressing Joy Bryant for the Zac Posen show. How do you dress someone for a fashion show? What's appropriate and what's not?

Obviously if a celebrity is asked to wear clothes by a particular designer, then it's important that they do, provided that they're comfortable with the options the designer gives them. In Joy's case, we found a great dress for her right out of the gate, so it worked out really well for both the client and the designer. For a Zac Posen show, you wouldn't want to be in a formal gown. His show actually held in the evening, so you can always do a fun little cocktail dress. If had been during the day, Joy would have had to do something a little more toned down and a little more day-appropriate. I loved the dress she wore to the show. Loved the color. It was soft, it was a bit cocktail, and it was very simple chic and slightly sexy. The length was appropriate. If you're sitting in the front row, or any row, your dress can't be too short or something with a train, because you're sitting arm-and-arm with people and your feet are literally one inch apart. You can't have something really cumbersome or something that people might trample. The photographers are usually going to attack the celebrity, so you can't have something really long, but you also can't have something too short because everyone would get a free show.

In this episode there's a fashion emergency where Kate Hudson needed looks for a press tour. Brad took the reigns because Taylor was gone, but he seemed to pull it off. Does that happen a lot?

It happens all the time. But I think this was Brad's opportunity to show what he can do. As you see in the show, Brad started his boot camp training from day one, and there wasn't a lot of time to train him. Immediately after he started he was handling three ad campaigns, fashion week, traveling, and all that. In this episode, Brad's on his own for the first time, handling an entire press tour for the client. It was his first real test, and it was particularly stressful because of the time constraints, but that's all a part of the training. I think he had to just do it.

Were you surprised he pulled it off?

I wasn't at all. I hired Brad because I knew he was going to be the right person. In all fairness, we didn't have time to train him, we just threw him to the wolves, but I think that's the best training because there's no margin for error. If you make an error on the job then there's really big price to pay, but sometimes that the best way to learn. You don't sugar coat anything and you have to perform. He passed each test with flying colors, and that didn't surprise me at all. That's the part he loves the most, the actual styling.

We were introduced to Ashley in this episode and we learn that Taylor wanted her to have Brad's job. Do you think that played a part in how she treated Brad?

At that point I think that Taylor wanted anyone but Brad. I think she wanted someone she knew would listen to her. Taylor knew that she could make someone like Ashley do it her way, whereas Brad came in with prior editorial experience. Taylor probably thought she'd have a little more control over someone like Ashley. But now I'm sure that Taylor is happy that Ashley isn't in Brad's position, but I'll let her discuss that.

The baby issue is also brought up in this episode. Is having a baby something you want?

Oh, absolutely. I don't know if a child fits into my life right now, but I know that I love children more than anything in the entire world. The closest thing I have to children is my niece and nephew, who are my life, as well as my best friends' daughter, but it's not the same. If I were much younger I would wait another five years, but I'm not, and unfortunately there is a time limit on having children. It's like it used to be, but it's harder as you get older. You blink your eyes and all of a sudden your whole life has passed and you wake up and it's too late. I think my life challenges me every single day and this would be another challenge, but probably the greatest one of my life.

Would you ever consider working on children's fashion?

You never know - with the way my mind works, who the hell knows? I wanna do so many things that I could wake up the day after I give birth and plan to open a huge center for children. Right now I'm working on this huge cancer initiative for women's cancers like ovarian cancer, but I think that anything that I can do to help children would be great. So the answer is yes - I could see myself doing kids jewelry and kids clothes.

In this episode, the spending issue comes up again when Rodger gets a call from the credit card company. You discuss retail therapy and collecting clothes - would you ever donate your vintage pieces to a museum?

My vintage pieces go into my "archive." I get rid of trend pieces all the time, depending on what they are. I usually get rid of that stuff more often than pieces from my vintage collection. Sometimes I'll store it in garment bags, label it, and put it away. Storage is always an issue. At the end of the day, my rationalization is that my vintage clothes are really a collection. My parents are art collectors - I collect clothes and accessories. It's not frivolous - I don't run out to Bergdorfs and drop millions of dollars. It's more like I'm on a constant treasure hunt for a one-of-a-kind vintage piece that I want to archive - a piece I want to collect and own. I want that piece of history.

Given your line of work, what's your take on the current economic crisis?

It's a really bad time, of course. It's horrible. I would say that I'm trying to reprogram my head for that. I think I need to be a little more cost-conscious. It's one of those things where if I don't feel it yet, I'm going to feel it down the line. I can tell you that Rodger is working really hard to put this recession into my brain. The world isn't in a good place financially right now, and I think I have to switch gears a little.

How is your relationship with clients and employees different from other stylists?

I'll tell you what I've heard from people who have worked with me. The difference between me and other stylists is that I treat my team as family. I don't really treat them like employees. I'm probably the least elitist person you've ever met. Very often I'm going to pick up lunch for them - not the other way around. I have a more motherly approach to my team as opposed to a boss approach. I think that sort of relationship with employees can hurt you and it can help you, but I don't really know how to do it any other way. I don't know how to be a confrontational disciplinarian. Brad once said that I'm one of the hardest people to work for, because I'm not a disciplinarian and I don't confront people, I don't scream, and I don't lay out a ton of rules. He said it's hard because I have tremendously high my expectations, but they aren't clearly laid out. They do know I expect a certain level of work. Brad has mentioned that the pressure is so intense, because I have so much faith in them. I have such a high level of trust and faith in Taylor and in Brad, and with that trust and faith comes a certain amount of pressure. I love them and I think the best work environment is one where happy employees are hard-working employees. If I don't treat them well, then they're not going to respect the job. That's my feeling. Then one argues, "Oh, a million people could take that job. It's so replaceable." Well, in my mind it's not. In some cases I take loyalty and honesty over ability.

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