Even after five seasons of “The Rachel Zoe Project,” I’m still not sure what to make of Rachel Zoe.
On the one hand, I admire the fact that she’s a self-made woman, someone who has built a legitimate brand for herself as a stylist (quick, name another stylist. Well, except Brad Goreski, I guess). She’s carved out a reality TV niche without a sex tape (cough, Kardashians, cough) or by screaming hysterically on another reality TV show. She clearly has a passion for what she does, and an exceptional eye for detail. In creating her own fashion line, she’s been able to immediately assess what’s wrong (or right) with an outfit, although sometimes she changes her mind again. And again. And then, back again. Still, every decision she makes is in the pursuit of perfection, or at least perfection in how she defines it.
That being said, I would never want to be stuck in an elevator with this woman.
What makes her a force with which to be reckoned within the fashion industry is what makes her frequently appear prickly and joyless on TV, more connected and entertained by the clothes on her models or in her closet than by real, live human beings. What softens her image is largely her frequently goofy husband Rodger and her son Skyler. Sometimes her staff also does the trick, though they’re often more prickly and joyless than Zoe herself depending on the task at hand. Her make-up artist/friend Joey seems to be the most adept at making Zoe smile as needed, and this is frequently needed. The higher the stakes, the more stressed and worried Zoe becomes. If her forehead could move, we’d have a clearer sense of it, but you get the idea.
In the season finale, the balance between Zoe’s stressful business life and her sometimes amusing personal life skewed hard toward the challenges of creating a pre-fall collection and a book cover, and while it was interesting from a creative point of view, it didn’t entirely work from a television perspective. Zoe talked about how she still feels as if life is just dress-up, and her insistence that she’s just a crazy kid in a candy store was only halfway convincing. Zoe’s been in this particular candy store an awfully long time. While I buy that she has a passion for fashion, I doubt she still has to pinch herself to believe it’s real.
When she insisted that a few hours spent prowling around her closet would show who she really is, it was unnerving to think that Zoe defines herself by her expansive collection of designer dresses, shoes and bags she owns (and accessories; we can’t forget the accessories). As much as she seemed to be softened up by the arrival of Skyler last season, she now seems to be back to “normal,” only pausing to give him hugs and ask that his nanny dress him in his Gucci suit for a photo shoot. As she purrs at one point while slipping into a big, fluffy coat, “Where did Rachel Zoe go for the past year and a half? She became a soccer mom temporarily, but now she’s back!”
I don’t doubt that she doesn’t have a lot of time to sit on the floor in a gold lame dress to endlessly play Legos, but I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world for us to see more of it in this finale, if it actually happens.
Still, we were reminded that Zoe used to be much, much worse. As Joey explains it, five years ago she was “psychotic, chaotic, crazy and couldn’t sit straight for five minutes.” I’m not sure this convinces me that motherhood and success have made Zoe a lovely person as much as it makes me absolutely terrified of what she was like five years ago.
It’s when Rodger shares the screen with his wife that Zoe becomes that much more appealing, if only because you have to think she has more of a sense of humor than we’re allowed to see given that she’s married to this guy. He jokingly tells her she’s a bitch, buys skate clothes for Skyler (a Run-DMC hoodie gets the most animated response from Zoe that we’ve seen) and merrily jokes around about that second kid he wants so badly. He’s goofy and nothing like Zoe, and although she complains that he’s essentially another kid for her to handle, the fact that she does makes me like her considerably more.
Though she seems conflicted about having that second kid, as that would pull her away from fashion for a full season (quelle horreur!), it just might be good television. Right up until she gets more excited over a purse than a poopy diaper, that is.
Did you see the finale of “The Rachel Zoe Project”? Do you want to see another season?