Joe Zee is a busy, busy man these days. Along with performing his day job as creative director at Elle, he's hosting the second season of his reality show All on the Line, jetsetting to Fashion Week shows around the globe, helping aspiring fashion students, and popping into the Soho Elie Tahari boutique — along with Mr. Elie Tahari himself — to help a bunch of fashion bloggers style outfits from the label's fall 2011 collection. This wasn't just a random visit. Zee has been consulting with Elie Tahari for multiple seasons and just recently styled the brand's spring 2012 runway show.
While we waited for Zee to make his way through snarling rush hour traffic, we had a chance to peruse the Elie Tahari fall offerings. Amongst the tweedy details, lush leathers, macro-lace, and ruching embellishments, the favorites of the editors seemed to be the black lace-trimmed leather shorts (totally practical, we swear), a grey-hued leopard print ruffle neck Clarissa trench, and a soft cranberry ruffle-layered Victoria coat. Once Zee arrived, we ambushed him with some questions as he was in the midst of pulling a white nipped-waist and flared pantsuit for a guest.
Fashionista: You've been very busy during the Fashion Weeks so far. Any highlights?
Joe Zee: I thought Prada was stellar. It was probably one of my favorite collections of all seasons. I thought it was young, it was fun, but it was sophisticated. I’ve been to so many Prada collections and you know the ones that are absolutely going to be groundbreaking and trendsetting and this is one of them. I think everyone’s going to want that lightening bolt shoe and the pleated skirts and all those coats and the brocade. And the colors were really beautiful. And I love Versace. It was classic, almost vintage archival Versace. It was just so chic and sexy, I love that.
Everybody is talking about Kanye West's upcoming show in Paris. What are your guesses on what he's going to do?
I’m missing it because I'm not going to be able to go until Saturday! I’m interested. I think he’s such a student of design and I think it’s probably going to be a lot more innovative and creative than we think. Kanye’s been working on a project like this for such a long time, and he wouldn’t put something out there if it wasn’t absolutely 150% of who he is.
Let's talk about you. Congratulations on the second season of All on the Line, which is premiering on the Sundance Channel on November 18. Any teasers you can give us?
We’re wrapping up season two this week and it’s going to be a really great season. We’re going to have a lot more designing on it and really great guest stars — and one of the episodes is Nicole Miller. So it's going to be interesting to see all the behind-the-scenes of how we get the show up for Fashion Week and all the things she has to go through. Because even though you think a big brand like Nicole Miller has it easy, it’s never easy for anyone.
I saw that Bravo's The Fashion Show season two alum Cesar Galindo is also on your line-up. So soon! In your opinion, how well do you think fashion competition shows really prepare designers for the real world?
I think competition shows are hard because you’re just in your bubble and you have time limits to create something. I think it’s incredibly creative and incredibly entertaining, and it’s incredibly fun, but a lot of it is not the real world. When you’re doing a collection, you don’t have 30 minutes to make a pair of pants and you don’t just live in the world of what you do. You have to be able to create something that you can sell. I’ve been working with Elie Tahari for the last six seasons we really think about doing clothes that real women want to buy. It’s not something that we just whip up quickly and that hopefully someone will like. We really think about how is this a collection, how is this a story, and how is this going to resonate with women who want to shop.
Okay, one final question before you get back to your styling responsibilities. Who do you think will take over at Christian Dior?
Oh my god. I have no guesses. If I did, I’d be working at LVMH. I don’t know. I think that Marc Jacobs would do a phenomenal job at Dior. So if that’s what everyone’s saying and it actually comes true, it would be fantastic.