Last night was a very special episode of The Rachel Zoe Project. Well, had this been Lifetime or an ABC after-school special, this would’ve been a very special episode — The One Where We Talk About Your Healthy Body — but instead this was more like a vaguely special episode that dealt with how the media terrorizes Rachel because she is, you know, petite. Specifically, Zoe is horrified by an article in the New York Post helpfully brought to her attention by assistant Marisa; Brad and Taylor say they haven’t read the offending blurb yet (though they clearly have, as Taylor is poorly trying to conceal her smile). Thus Rach is forced to read it aloud herself: “Pin-thin stylist Rachel Zoe [Zoe interrupts herself: “Pin-thin? Pin-thin!”] was ‘flipping out over the phone and screaming at the top of her lungs’ at the pre-Oscar party at the Andaz Hotel in L.A., our spy reports. A pal let slip that Debra Messing dropped her as a stylist.” [Again, Zoe: “That’s funny because we’re booked on a job four days from now.”] The show continues with Zoe’s insecurities on full display as she poses for a Marie Claire budget fashion shoot, tries to hide her scaly chest and spiny back before hitting a party she’s hosting, and generally harps on the role the media plays in her life throughout. Brad, of course, tries to raise her spirits through the power of dance, and Taylor picks up the slack at the office. Besides learning that Zoe is supersensitive, we also learned plenty of other things about life and fashion in this episode, per usual.
What we learned about fashion:
• The fashion tabloids’ “best dressed” lists really do matter to star stylists like Rachel. She has Marisa deliver a stack to her and the team to review post-Oscars pictures and to confirm her awesomeness.
• Going on a husband-enforced “spending freeze” means you can buy “three to five things instead of ten to twenty things,” says Rachel. Plus: “A little shopping never hurt anybody.” We couldn’t agree more.
• Brad’s fashion icon is Mary-Kate Olsen (“I don’t know what to say except there is a fond, deep love. And I love her clothes. The women’s clothes, especially”).
• Older women should keep their hair long, says Rachel. “My hair is sort of like my security blanket,” she says. “I’m sort of naked without it. As you get older, you try to hide your face as much as possible.”
• Modeling is not for everyone, not even for Rachel — who was a model her freshman year of college! (We get to see a really embarrassing picture of her in Madonna-like garb and makeup. Die.) But her stint as a model actually spurred her to go into styling. “Being a model is a dream for many, many young girls,” she says. “But I’m not good at taking direction from so many people on what to wear. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to be a stylist.” And the world is a better place because of it.
• Sequins are all you need. On the Marie Claire shoot, Rachel tells us twice that she “loves herself a sequin.” She explains: “It just adds the perfect little bit of glamour and glitz to everything.” Pairing said sequins with a $29 polka-dot shirt is okay, too.
• Also, “accessories are always a great thing to buy on a budget,” says Rachel. “You can buy a fistful of bangles for $15. You can buy vintage scarves for $5 and just go on that treasure hunt looking for special pieces.” Or you could make like Team Zoe and borrow a trunk full of Harry Winston and Hermès scarves for FREE!
• Brad thinks Rachel needs to let her style evolve and let him style her for the Marie Claire shoot. Left to her own devices, he knows she will end up in “granny’s nightie.” However, Rachel says she needs to look like herself in order to be comfortable in front of the camera. Shapeless dresses and boho glam it is!
• Don’t even think about going into a photo-shoot situation without a Big Gay Parade. “Nothing makes a woman feel better than a whole slew of gay men cheering you on, striking poses, and just making you feel good about yourself and making you laugh when you’re feeling insecure,” she says.
• Natalia Vodianova is a client of Rachel Zoe and we have no idea why. Do models really need stylists? Especially when they basically look amazing in EVERYTHING? In any case, the camera goes all slo-mo on Natalia trying on a sparkly silver Hervé Léger dress while Brad confides: “She makes me want to pass out because she’s all the woman I want to be,” before asking her to strike a “fresh Vogue pose” for him. She obliges. After Natalia leaves, sad music plays as Rachel holds up the L´ger dress to her own frame and wishes she could look as good in the dress as Natalia.
• It’s never cool to play matchy-matchy with your friends’ outfits. But Brad is in love with his bright-red DSquared blazer that he’s going to wear to the Rachel-hosted Byron and Tracey party. However, Rachel’s red dress is exactly the same shade, making Brad worry that they’ll come looking like “Mr. and Mrs. Claus.” Luckily, after the red dress proves to be too spine-revealing, Rachel pouts until she ends up in a shapeless sequined dress. “I couldn’t feel more unattractive,” she says, while Brad assures her she looks great. Again, back to the gay-cheerleader thing.
• Straight style means “hoodies under blazers, T-shirts under blazers,” according to Brad as he tries to style Rodger. After giving up, he admits that Rodger’s horrific choices in clothing [our words] don’t really matter since he has “amazing hair.” We really, strongly disagree.
What we learned about life:
• If you’re super-scary skinny and know it, being called “pin-thin” is still not easy to hear.
• Sometimes your job morphs in ways you don’t like. Rachel never thought “dealing with the press was ever going to be a part of my job as a stylist.” Right, and we’re sure she thought this whole reality-show project would result in no extra attention whatsoever.
• When the media prints things that aren’t true, it really hurts. To Rachel it’s like “a knife digging into my heart and twisting.” Ouch. Luckily, Rodger has a plan to “give Rachel a voice” through her own website where she can tell people who she really is without people making shit up.
• The truth hurts, but it’s necessary. While it might appear that Rachel keeps Taylor around to do the workload of three people, she also needs Taylor to be the Simon Cowell of the group. During the Post debacle, Rachel points to Brad and Marisa, saying, “She’s going to be nice. You’re going to be nice. You, tell me the truth” (with her finger pointing toward Taylor). Taylor, in return, imparts wisdom: “It doesn’t matter, Rachel. It’s just stupid, who cares. Just let it go. There’s been bad press about you before, there’s going to be bad press to come.”
• The reason that Rachel and Nicole Richie didn’t speak for a while was “a personal issue and nobody’s business. The media just needs to leave that entire thing alone.” Well, that settles it. Later, at the Byron and Tracey party, Rachel claims she and Nicole are “friends,” but they look like frenemies to us.
• Boobs are funny. And the fact that Taylor has breasts is still a hilarious fact to the team (minus Taylor). Rachel explains that Taylor’s outfit for the party will consist of “tits, everywhere” before throwing herself and everyone else into a fit of giggles.
• It’s so much easier being behind the camera instead of in front of it. Rachel’s “worst fear” is being photographed. It gives her “an anxiety attack, just the thought of it.” And after we see Rachel pose super-awkwardly at her Marie Claire shoot, we can validate those fears.
• If you’re interviewing for a job that involves certain skills, it’s good to demonstrate those skills at the interview. When a girl interviews with Rodger for a gig teaching Rachel how to tweet and do Facebook, he’s impressed when she actually tweets at the table. Which makes sense.
• Taylor is terribly normal and wonderful. In a rare tender moment between Brad and Taylor, we learn that when the two go out together, Taylor always ends up totally wasted and Brad has to drag her home and pick up the contents of her spilled purse.