Rachel Zoe: Life Off The Red Carpet
New York-born and LA-based A-list celebrity stylist, Rachel Zoe, might have a black book of contacts that include Anne Hathaway, Cameron Diaz, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and the late Oscar De La Renta, but she is hardly one to brag about her connections. In fact, the 43-year-old mother of two has become a celebrity herself thanks to her popular reality TV show, The Rachel Zoe Project, and her legion of fans who follow her every red carpet look at the Oscars.
Rachel began as a stylist in her early 20’s, working crazy hours just to build her contact list – her clients included Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys – and taking on any job to survive the cut-throat show business. Now she is one of the world’s most sought after stylists and counts Givenchy’s Ricardo Tisci, Karl Lagerfeld and John Galliano among her closest friends.
woman with drive caught up with Rachel on her recent whirlwind trip to Melbourne and spoke to her about life on and off the red carpet.
Do you feel you have finally made it to the top?
I never feel like I am at the top. It is never a safe place and you cannot assume everyone is on your side. Every time you think you are comfortable, you have to watch those around you. I know this because I have been backstabbed and hurt by some of those who have worked for me. It typically does not happen often but when it does, it is brutal. Those are the times you thank God you have a great family. If you lose everything, you at least have your loved ones. Some might think you are at the top of your game and envy your life but it is hard work to maintain that. I do not take my job for granted and I work hard to keep the momentum.
How do you disconnect from your work life?
I find that very hard, to be honest. I have gotten better at disconnecting now that I am older but I have never known how to do that all my life. My kids have helped with that. Until I had my two sons, I never switched off from work. I was on 24 hours a day. My kids are my escape. When I am working I am totally working and when I am with my kids, everything else is secondary.
You work closely with your husband, Roger Berman. What is the key to your marriage and how do you manage the personal and working relationships?
Roger is my rock. He joined my business six years ago. It was at the point when my business was taking off that I said to him, you have to join me in this. When I started my business it was one assistant and I. Now we employ 50 people. When things are crumbling but you cannot show it the world, Roger is there and knows what is going on inside. You get through when you have someone like Roger in your life. We have been together since we were 19, and we spend every waking and sleeping minute together. He is kind, smart and intelligent. It is all you need to make your relationship work. And he is fabulous in the business – all spreadsheets and business models and pragmatism!
Did you ever think you would have time to start a family given that you were so focused on your career?
I could not have become a mother in my 20s. I was obsessed with my work and was behaving more like a teenager. I also worked around the clock, seven days a week, travelling to fashion shows and making sure I was everywhere I needed to be, from Paris to New York. I would sleep three hours a night or catch up on sleep on the plane. That was my life until I had my first child four years ago. My first son Skyler was a happy accident. I knew I wanted to be a mum and I am glad it happened when it did. My career was at a point where I felt good about it and the rest happened naturally.
When you dress celebrities on the red carpet, what do women typically want from you?
I have worked with younger actresses who want to p*ss off their boyfriends and look really hot on the red carpet. They want to wear something crazy tight to show off their bodies. Then there are women who are promoting a serious movie and want to appear more subdued. Some do not look in the mirror and trust me to put them in whatever I want. There are usually 19 fittings and 40 outfit choices during these events.
What is your advice for younger women trying to break into this business?
Be yourself, work hard and always respect people. I learned that from my dad – he said always be nice. You have nothing to lose.
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