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Rachel Zoe's world

PEOPLE

She's a stylist, reality TV star, designer and mom. And she's not done -- not even close.

July 17, 2011|BOOTH MOORE | FASHION CRITIC

Some babies have all the luck. The recent birth of Skyler Morrison Berman, for example, inspired a series of baby gifts that could have been lifted from the pages of Vogue: a custom-made sweater the size of a tea cozy from Angela Missoni, a child-size china setting from Marc Jacobs and a shearling snuggly from Georgina Chapman.

Of course, when Mom is Rachel Zoe -- celebrity stylist-turned-reality TV star-turned-designer -- and the gift-givers are members of fashion's reigning class, glamour is expected.

On a recent sunny afternoon, lounging by the pool of his Los Angeles home with his nanny by his side, Skyler is wearing a blue striped Petit Bateau "1940s-style swimsuit," as Zoe describes it, and brown Bonpoint fisherman's sandals. It's a milestone, the first day the 3-month-old wears shoes, though he already has more than a dozen pairs in his nursery, including Gucci loafers.

Yet the new mother makes it sound as if life in Zoe land isn't quite as glamorous as it used to be. "My whole day is about whether my son poops or not," she says.

"The next thing you know, we'll be moving to Brentwood and I'll be driving a minivan."

Doubtful.

Zoe is wearing a pair of flared tuxedo pants so long they nearly sweep the floor, and a sparkly cropped navy blue jacket. Both items are from her new line, the Rachel Zoe fashion collection landing in stores this month, and they allow her to exude a sort of career-woman vibe, to play the role of "execubitch." (And don't worry -- that particular term is a Zoe-ism.)

Zoe's career trajectory has been impressive, going from no-name stylist to red carpet tastemaker, earning $6,000 a day, with clients including Cameron Diaz, Eva Mendes and Demi Moore. The next step was full-fledged celebritydom, with a Bravo reality show, QVC line and, now, a fashion collection. And she's done it all in a decade.

The fall collection, with prices that range from $250 to $700, oozes '70s style, which should come as no surprise to fans of Zoe's trademark flowy peasant dress/oversized sunglasses look. But don't expect "bohemian glamour," Zoe says. "I wanted androgyny and the powerful woman look. I've grown up a lot. I wanted an amazing white tuxedo for under $1,000 and a cocktail dress for under $500."

Most of the pieces are quite tailored and have a vintage Yves Saint Laurent vibe. "It's very Jane Birkin-y and Anjelica Huston-y and Bianca Jagger-y, with a splash of sequins, a little Liza Minnelli, thrown in," Zoe says.

There are trouser suits with flared legs, plunge-front blouses that tie at the neck, leather-trimmed capes with toggle closures, faux fur jackets, disco-short dresses with tiers of chiffon or splashes of sequins, and diaphanous chiffon maxi-dresses. Accessories include 51/2-inch platform pumps (not for the faint of heart) and chain-handle clutch bags.

The collection -- backed by LF USA (a division of Li & Fung, a Hong Kong-based global sourcing giant and producer of clothing, toys and furniture) -- is selling in "contemporary departments" alongside clothes by designers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Alexander Wang. (It's been reported that Zoe could earn as much as $20 million from the line.) Neiman Marcus bought the collection for all 41 of its stores, and teased the launch with an "Oh So Zoe" Facebook challenge that let users style virtual looks and share them with friends. Bloomingdales is planning to devote the windows of its store at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan to the collection.

"In entertainment, they talk about people who can act, sing and dance as being triple threats. Rachel Zoe is a triple threat in fashion. She has a great eye, a larger-than-life personality and a whole entertainment world built around her," said Catherine Moellering, executive vice president of New York-based trend forecasting firm Tobe Report.

Zoe's entree into fashion follows the direction in which the industry has been heading for some time, putting a premium on charisma over craft. "In terms of a business model, Jessica Simpson or Rachel Zoe would be the model for fashion today," Moellering said. "Instead of being known for an iconic top or dress, they are iconic personalities themselves, which allows them to be more flexible in how they branch out into other categories."

Although Zoe's design studio is in New York, Rachel Zoe Inc. is headquartered in Los Angeles. (She plans to fly back and forth.) Her husband, Rodger Berman, is president of the company, which has different spaces for styling services, product development, digital media (including production of her daily style blog at RachelZoe.com) and the stylist's fashion archives. There are about 15 employees at the company, including design director Eric Sartori.

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