By Devorah Rose
Photography By Brian Bowen Smith
The first time I became aware of Rachel Zoe was when I saw a picture of Nicole Richie on the red carpet and I was amazed. Richie had somehow seamlessly transformed from ubiquitous reality star who spit out stinging one-liners into what looked like a 1930s starlet. Ritchie’s style had evolved into a casual understated elegance, and I soon found out that Rachel Zoe was the woman behind that transformation. She has dressed more celebrities in her multi-decade career than have walked through the doors of CAA or WME. Rachel’s journey includes books and television shows, but has grown into something more. She now owns a fashion house (Rachel Zoe Collection), is a media power player (The Zoe Report), and is a luxury subscription purveyor (Box of Style). Rachel Zoe is a unique source of all things style and glamour.
I think what everyone wants to know is how Rachel sees and feels about style. “I am a firm believer that style can change your life because it really is a way of expressing yourself without having to ever speak. It’s the first thing people see. I’m not saying you need to be in a ball gown at 8 am, but give yourself a little bit of extra something, whether it’s a little concealer under your eyes, a cheek pinch, or a bit of lipstick. I think that ultimately these things make you feel better about yourself and so you put a stronger self out there.” She pauses, takes a deep breath, and continues: “I think the outside informs the inside, and your inner confidence clearly informs what you project to the rest of the world. To have style you don’t have to be wealthy or famous. In this day and age we have access to style, fashion, accessories, and beauty at any price point. I find many times that people on the most limited budgets have the best style because it forces them to be more creative. I believe putting your absolute best self out there is transformative in every way. I think it really makes you look at yourself differently and feel differently. What matters most is how you feel.” Style is Rachel’s life, not just a career
And how does it feel to appear to have it all — being your own boss, having a strong marriage, and two adorable children to boot? She laughs and confesses, “I never feel like I have it all figured out. Being a working mom is by far the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced in my life. I constantly feel as though I’m in a tug of war. I wish I could say I meditate and do yoga and all that, but I don’t. It’s daily mayhem of work and parenting, work and mommy-ing. I feel like the love I get from my kids is my me time. It’s not relaxing. I’ve never been more tired in my life.”
Many of Rachel Zoe’s hours are spent poring over her collection and growing her fashion line. “The women who inspire me are very much the women who are buying my clothes. The women who have always inspired me are strong, courageous, confident women that are never doing one thing in their life.” But what is at the core of her line? The soul behind her life’s work? “The intention behind my collection is to dress women for the everyday moments and those extraordinary moments. Some of our retailers tell us that the mom will come in with the daughter and the grandma, and they will all leave with an outfit. When that happens it’s a dream moment for me,” she says.
Not many marriages survive running a business together, but Rachel and her husband, Rodger Berman, have been co-CEOs since 2009. “We just celebrated our twenty-seventh anniversary and twenty years of marriage. We both have this theory that if your relationship is right, it actually should be the easiest part of your life. Everything else in our life is hard — the challenges of growing a business, having employees, raising children. He and I are actually the easy part. At this point we’ve been together for more than half our lives, so it’s just how we exist. But we still can bicker. There are times we are Lucy and Ricky and other times we are The Notebook couple. We exist with each other and don’t know how to do it any other way. No one knows me better in this world.” But does romance still fit into the equation after so many years? And if so how does this duo keep their love life going? “Rodger is better at it than I. What’s most important, but also challenging is reminding ourselves to go on date-nights as well as go away for a few nights without the children once in a while.”
A place that Rachel and Rodger have created many memories is the Hamptons. In fact when I ask Rachel what she is doing when she feels happiest she says, “I’m in the Hamptons or St Barths wearing a caftan on the beach and Rodger is drinking rosé, about to pour me a glass, and the kids are running around playing in the sand. I grew up going to the Hamptons every summer since I was born. That’s where Rodger and I got engaged, and where Skyler and Kaius both went into the ocean for the first time. I’ve also celebrated almost every birthday and anniversary in the Hamptons since both are just before Labor Day.” Thinking about the Hamptons, Rachel says, “There was this great moment on the beach last summer with friends of ours. We met at the beach at noon and all the sudden it was six o’clock. And we were all there with our kids, who were running around. It’s one of those magical summer moments, and your kids are at their happiest because they are running around in a giant sand box.” With memories old and new, it’s hard to pick favorites, but Rachel talks about how much she enjoyed having her father’s 80th birthday at The Palm in the Hamptons last summer. “The Hamptons is the place that means family to me. I told my family I was pregnant with my first child at Nick and Toni’s, and I got engaged at the dock at East Hampton Point, which is now Moby’s. And the memories go on and on.”
Although most think of Rachel as a style mogul, she is more than meets the eye. Rachel is a mother with a rich family life and a love for the Hamptons. As she continues to grow her fashion empire alongside her husband, she confesses that there is one thing they need to do: “We have to remind ourselves to shut off when we are not at work.” Controlling her boundless creativity is definitely something we hope Rachel Zoe never attempts!