If you’ve heard the superlative “Bananas!” (as in, crazy, super, hot) bandied around in conversation recently, it’s likely owing to Rachel Zoe who rose to fame as a celebrity stylist (see: Kate Hudson, Liv Tyler, Demi Moore, Anne Hathaway) a few years ago, back when such red-carpet consiglieres were still largely anonymous. Never veering from her signature seventies-glam look, she’s gradually moved into the spotlight as a crossover media personality, complete with an idiosyncratic lexicon (“maje” = major, “I die” = the highest form of compliment). This year has been her most frenetic yet: the birth of her first child (to husband and business partner Rodger Berman), taping the fourth season of her TV show and the introduction of a namesake clothing collection. Still, from one of the personal shopping suites at Holt Renfrew in Toronto last month, Zoe (rhymes with “no”) appeared chatty, no worse for the wear, coiffed to perfection and dressed entirely in her own designs.
We last chatted four years ago when you were promoting your book, Style A to Zoe . Since then, you’ve developed a TV show, started a website with daily newsletters, popped out a baby and now you’ve launched a clothing line. Are you able to step back and appreciate all you’ve done?
The answer is no. But I’ve always been that way. I’m programmed to get through one thing and move on to the next. I’m also very superstitious. I don’t like to jinx things. I never want to feel complacent and satisfied and overly confident.
Was a clothing line always part of the plan?
No, because [years ago] half the things that have happened and are happening now, I had ruled out. I said I would never do it.
So what changed?
Timing, stars aligning and just really saying why not. I never want to force a situation but things have happened organically – meaning the right partners, the right team, and what seems like a void in the market. So now I think I’m never going to say never any more, or else I just look like a big hypocrite because I’m contradicting myself all the time.
What is the biggest difference between creating a collection and styling one?
A couple things: timing and not being able to have samples. They take a long time to make and I’m very particular about fabrics and design and tailoring and realizing that I can’t change everything every few seconds. I really have to make major decisions at certain time frames within a design calendar. There’s no “Ohmigod, I want to totally redo the sleeve!” the day before the show. That’s not happening.
Have you seen people wearing your designs?
Jennifer Lopez wore the tuxedo dress and I almost died! Any time I see someone wearing anything of mine, it’s crazy. And seeing my name on Style.com with the other designers is so surreal.
Why does the seventies era appeal to you so much?
I think I identify most with the women and designers of that time period. It’s very much the way that I’m built and what works best on me. It’s drapey dresses and maxi-length skirts and tailored jackets. I think this will always be my signature.
What is your son wearing? Not dresses, I gather.
Well, he’s not even five months old, so for right now, it’s just been really fun to dress him like a little doll. Because trust me, from what I understand, they pretty much look at you one day and say, no I’m not wearing that. And then it’s going to be athletic clothes for the rest of his life and I have no say in it.
So what can we expect in another four years’ time; will you have a cooking show?
I don’t know. I do love to cook. Actually, I love to bake more than I love to cook.
What’s a signature Rachel Zoe recipe?
Mmm, chocolate-chip banana bread with streusel topping. It’s kinda maje.
This interview has been condensed and edited.