By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL, AP Fashion Writer
NEW YORK — Rachel Zoe’s four-month-old son will probably know his Christian Dior from Yves Saint Laurent before he can walk.
At celebrity fittings or business meetings, Skyler is the new favorite accessory of the stylist, reality star and author. But there’s a new baby in her life, too: Her own line of contemporary clothes, designed, she promises, with love, style and careful attention to detail.
There was a small, under-the-radar preview of the fall collection in February, but she’s going center stage in September as part of the official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week lineup at Lincoln Center to show off her spring looks.
Zoe says she doesn’t want her label to be like anything else she’s seen over the years on runways or red carpets.
“My personal collection comes from concepts and ideas I’ve been cultivating since I started collecting clothes. I’m inspired by Halston, YSL, but I try to keep it true to who I am,” Zoe says.
“I will still be going to other designers and their shows _ that’s something that’s very important for me as a stylist, but I don’t let it influence me. Just like you can’t compare Marc Jacobs to another designer, you can’t say his collection looks like so-and-so, and it’s the same thing with people like Sarah Burton and McQueen, or Prabal Gurung. I want this collection to look like my collection.
Celebrities seem to like what they’ve seen so far. Jennifer Lopez has twice been spotted in clothes from the collection, including a tuxedo-style minidress named after Cameron Diaz.
Also look for long, dolman-sleeve dresses inspired by Kate Hudson for resort.
Zoe’s probably most famous for a beachy, bohemian look, very St. Tropez, and she has put a lot of young Hollywood in kaftans, maxi dresses and platform sandals. Of course there’s some of that in her collection, she says, but she very purposefully also included pieces for the hipster downtown girl, the fashion-forward experimenter and the more polished sophisticate.
Watch “The Rachel Zoe Project:”
“I want people to walk out after they’ve seen the clothes and say, ‘I loved it. I see the essence of who this girl is, a girl who loves fashion but not a fashion victim, on trend but not trendy, someone with an appreciation of vintage but modern,'” the 39-year-old Zoe said during a recent telephone interview.
That’s a tall order in this business, but perhaps even more so for Zoe, who is largely credited with taking behind-the-scenes styling to the front row _ and in front of the cameras. The fourth season of her Bravo show “The Rachel Zoe Project,” which made the catch phrase “I die” shorthand among the chic set for being excited about something, premieres Sept. 6.
While no one in the industry seems to dispute her sense of style, Zoe has become a media personality who attracts paparazzi and gossip. Does she think it will be hard for her collection to be taken seriously?
“I will never, ever think of myself as a celebrity. I’d never consider myself a celebrity designer,” she says. “I’m a celebrity stylist. Or a designer. Or a stylist-designer. I want this to be perceived as a collection done by a stylist and a designer.”
But, yes, she allows, she knows there’s a likely mention of her Fashion Week debut on Page Six. “I just hope that people focus on the clothes.”
Shoppers, apparently, have no problem doing that.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president of fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, says customers are “running, not walking,” to get their hands on Zoe’s items. “I went to buy the camel high-waisted trouser and it was already sold out!” she says.
Fargo told the AP in an email that she had a good feeling about the collection long before she saw a sketch, let alone a garment.
“Rachel let me in on the secret over two years ago that she was developing a collection. I took this little whisper very seriously. I made her promise to show us as soon as she was ready. And we don’t say that to just anyone who has a line up their stylist’s sleeve,” Fargo says.
Zoe’s passion for fashion translates to the fabric, the silhouette and the style, Fargo adds, noting that it only helps Zoe that she lives the glamorous, jet-setting life of many of her clients and her label’s customers.
“Rachel’s years as a stylist has put her in the dressing rooms of a lot of choosy, image- conscious women and their needs and phobias. It’s also happened to have given her tremendous access and exposure,” Fargo says. “She has a firm grasp on the power of personal style and the value of a well-chosen closet.”
Unlined pockets on white pants? That’s something her clients hate, reports Zoe, and has been duly addressed on her version. Mid-calf skirts are another don’t, especially in the Diaz rule book, and you won’t see them in her line either.
“Those,” she says, “are the little things I’ve picked up along the way.”
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