Don’t Mess With the Zoe-han
August 28, 2009

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We can’t let the week go by without mentioning the second-season premiere of The Rachel Zoe Project, can we? In this episode, our heroine has to style all five of her top clients for one event, the Golden Globes of last January. Naughty-children assistants Brad and Taylor (formerly at odds but now besties, apparently) stage an insurrection by moving their desks down from the attic (er, “loft”). A lost Dior Haute Couture gown refuses to be found.  A shortage of dresses threatens – because of the recent economic unpleasantness, designers are not sending out things willy-nilly if there’s no guaranteed red-carpet payoff.  There might not be enough one-of-a-kind vintage baubles fit for all the ladies. Rachel’s hubby/biz partner pouts because Rachel won’t be able to have dinner until 10 p.m. at the earliest.  And somewhere, paint is drying.

I kid, I kid … and for fashion insiders, the cliffhanger of  whether  Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld will let Rachel detach the sleeve from a couture gown for Cameron Diaz to wear, possibly altering it forever, must qualify as some sort of drama (in the end Karl assents, Cameron glows, and Rachel gets a treasured mash note from the designer). But the problem, as in many so-called reality shows, is that once again the real dramatics are happening offstage.  She has five major clients, yet the show blithely frames her task as presenting one perfect dress to each of them – as though things were really that simple in Tinseltown. (which, by the way, my dictionary defines as “Hollywood or the superficially glamorous world it represents” – ha!)

As any stylist out here knows deep in their overworked bones, an actress (and often their publicist, spouse, best friend and/or kids) will need to see an array of gowns and usually has lots of dithering and second thoughts – and they often go back and forth right up until they get in the limo. There’s a cliffhanger for ya. Obviously Rachel’s big-name clients – Hathaway, Diaz, Moore, Mendes and Messing – weren’t gonna let the cameras in on their dress fittings, where everything is really hashed out. But there wasn’t even a hint of any worry about whether the actresses would embrace Rachel’s favorites. Not that the women didn’t end up looking great – I especially liked Eva Mendes who rocked in the once-MIA white Dior and bold jewels (always a Zoe hallmark.)

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It made me wonder if Bravo filmed the prep scenes after the Globes, backtracking when everyone knew what choices the actresses made. Or maybe there was other equally riveting footage that revolved around discarded dresses.  Only your editing room knows for sure.

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