The season finale of The Rachel Zoe Project came to an end that was almost disappointing in how resolute, peaceful, and happy it was. Aren’t seasons supposed to end with drama and questions and intriguing spells of bitchiness? If Rachel Zoe finally finds ways to deal with her stress — the foundation of this entire series — is there even another season? Despite the resolution she may or may not have found, there should be, because we could one day go to bed only to rise and realize Rachel Zoe’s empire — complete with fragrances and lines of faux-fur rabbit-foot key chains — is as big as Martha Stewart’s. And what kind of network would Bravo be not to take us on that journey? And on the journey to cast hunky male model Leandro in a dazzling high-fashion shoot for V?
What we learned about fashion:
• Men should shave their legs before wearing short shorts. Brad once told us he’d wear very short shorts on the show this season, but it was still hard not to feel a bit shocked to see him walking around outside in L.A. in a pair of crotch-skimming shorts that nearly made us feel indecent for looking at the television. We can’t be sure if he actually shaved (or waxed) for this moment, but if a man is going to show that much leg, they ought to at least look like they do.
• The holy grail of styling is not dressing celebrities, but styling high-fashion shoots. Rachel gets to style a spread for V’s fall fashion issue (the one with Lady Gaga on the cover). She can’t stop freaking out and dying over how this is “ultra high-fashion.” For once she gets to work with something more (read: leg warmers and unitards!) than plain dresses for celebrities with mass appeal who are desperate not to offend the fashion (non)sensibilities of Middle America.
• High-fashion stylists should not go through life without a Xanax prescription. It’s difficult to plan ahead with high-fashion shoots because, when you work with in-demand models and photographers, you never know when the stars will magically align and permit their schedules to leave corresponding free time for one another. So Rachel doesn’t know when she’ll have to be ready for the V shoot. She winds up getting 48 hours notice, which is obviously only bound to give her vertigo again. She really should just hook an IV of Xanax to her arm and coast through life in a delightful daze. Why else do we live in America?
• American Apparel is a bastion for the world’s most terrifying posers. Such as the clerk who helps Brad pull lamé and leg warmers for the V shoot while wearing a white plastic windshield on his face.
• Rachel: “A fragrance is one of the elements I’m most passionate about in developing the Rachel Zoe brand.” This is silly. Martha Stewart doesn’t have a fragrance. Hell, Tyra Banks doesn’t even have one.
• If you are known for loving and wearing vintage, maybe don’t come out with a fragrance. Fragrances by celebrities should embody what that celebrity smells like at their best, right? Well, a woman who wears vintage every day might be better off coming out with a fancy version of Febreze.
• This is just a matter of personal taste, but we’ll say it anyway: Do not sell your fragrance to the American public by saying, “I used to dunk myself in patchouli when I was in college.”
• A smoking-hot male model can do the work of three male models. Rachel and Brad have a hard time finding bulky, muscle-y models for the V shoot. Finally, Leandro walks in the door in his rippling glory, and Brad and Rachel realize if they had three of him around, they’d faint repeatedly or die of heat exhaustion and no work would get done. So they cast him solo.
• Modeling is all about not being self-conscious. Jessica Stam and Leandro look very silly posing for the V shoot. But they’re pros, so they simply pretend like they’re drunk and don’t care what everyone’s thinking and do the best fake aerobics they can do.
• Wear sunglasses inside if you feel like it. Rachel asks Taylor to take off her sunglasses at their final meeting of the season. Taylor says no because she doesn’t want to. Besides, does she tell Rachel to take her shades off at fashion shows? No. She does not.
What we learned about life:
• If you know your employer would die, literally figuratively, if she lost you, play mind games as you would with a boyfriend. Taylor doesn’t return Rachel’s messages after Paris. Rachel, since she is a woman and not a man, understands this means something is wrong and she needs to go into her meeting with Taylor with a plan for how to keep her.
• Don’t worry about a business not growing when it’s the subject of a Bravo show. Taylor worries Rachel’s product lines won’t get off the ground and she won’t get to do the kind of work she really wants to. If Real Housewives can stage fashion shows in New York because of their Bravo exposure, of course Rachel can launch a line of fake-fur vests.
• Do not let your best employee go. Rachel’s business would collapse without Taylor. So when Taylor tells her she’s tired of being an assistant, Rachel tells her she can become head of product development. Whatever that means.
• If you promote an employee, give them promoted tasks to do. Rachel has had meetings about side projects, like her line of faux-fur vests, but has never brought Taylor along with her. In past episodes, she’s just brought her assistant because she remembers things and takes notes while Zoe just plays with stuff in the room. When Taylor threatens to quit, Zoe invites her to go to New York with her the next day to work on her fragrance and QVC line. Translation: “I don’t really need you with me, but I finally have no choice but to make you feel more important than Brad, somehow.”
• Two years ago, Rachel had planned to have a company the size of Martha Stewart’s by now. Ahem, did we not predict Rachel Zoe cat boxes were on the horizon?
• Don’t ever let your employees or America forget how fabulous you are. Rachel ends the conversation with Taylor by saying she has to go get ready for a “Valentino dinner.” Truthfully, the fashion industry has parties to celebrate things as trivial as having a button sewn on a pair of pants, and this dinner may very well have been no more important, but these events and their various name associations help the industry and its players feel grand and important, which is all that matters.
• When your husband gets tired of hearing you complain, complain to your assistant. Rachel moans to Rodger in a scene that could have been recycled, “I don’t even remember what it feels like to feel good.” Rachel hasn’t changed her lifestyle, so Rodger tells her, “Stay sick, stay nauseous, but I don’t want to hear about it.” And Rachel complains mostly to Brad for the rest of the episode.
• Even Bravo isn’t perfect. There was a scene where Leandro removed his shirt completely and a GIANT BRAVO LOGO IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE SCREEN GOT IN THE WAY OF HIS TORSO. FAIL, BRAVO. FAIL.
• Rachel drinks tea in those giant Starbucks cups, not coffee. When Taylor tells Rachel on the way to the V shoot she got her a tea, we really felt duped. We thought Rachel was a hard-core caffeine freak — the kind of hard-core caffeine freak we would like to one day become when we become phenomenally successful and launch a line of Fashion Fabulous Febreze. We hope Anna Wintour’s not lying to us, too.
• Like mother, like daughter. Taylor’s parents come to the studio early on a Saturday morning to help her unpack boxes because Brad and Jordan don’t do work. Her mom wears her shades inside the whole time.
• Rachel’s medical ailments would probably be cured by eating more. The doctor — again perfectly made up for her Bravo moment — asks Rachel if she’s eating enough. Rachel says she “can only get down soup.” The doctor says Rachel would probably feel better if she ate more. Rodger asks, “What is it you’re accomplishing by running yourself into the ground?” which is probably just another way of asking, “Why don’t you eat?!”
• “Shut” is a particularly annoying substitute for “shut up.” Rachel tells Rodger to “shuuuutttt” repeatedly in the doctor’s office, as though she doesn’t already have enough one-word catchphrases that aren’t really catchphrases.
• Never have a formal business meeting without carbs in the center of the table. Rachel calls her team together to tell them about her health woes and how she plans to fix them. We know this is a formal meeting because Rachel isn’t wearing a robe. A plate of various bread products adorns the meeting table.
• If you want to be like Martha Stewart, marry a husband who lives for you and only you. Ultimately, Rachel has to find a way to improve her health so she doesn’t give herself a heart attack. Rather than undergo a fitness and nutrition program, she decides to give Rodger control of the business. Presumably he’ll give up whatever else it is that he does when he’s not working for Rachel Zoe Inc. “I’m Rachel’s husband, first and foremost,” he says. If Rachel felt the same way about him, would she have all these health issues?