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Star stylist Rachel Zoe relishes ‘constant challenge’ of designing new collection

TORONTO – Rachel Zoe has left a fashionable footprint on countless red carpets helping outfit A-listers for award shows and galas. Along the way, the star stylist behind designer looks worn by the likes of Cameron Diaz, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson has also cultivated a public persona and following all her own. From her love ’60s and ’70s style to catchphrases like “I die” and “bananas” colouring her speech, she’s the rare behind-the-scenes personality that has become as recognizable as her famous clients. Zoe previously launched a line of jewelry, bags, scarves, sunglasses and outerwear exclusively sold on QVC. She has teamed up with Hong Kong-based Li & Fung to broaden her range into a full lifestyle retail collection. With the Rachel Zoe Collection, the L.A.-based style maven said she thinks it’s fun to “be challenged all over again.” “I think being a designer is going to be a constant challenge for me,” Zoe said in an interview this week at Holt Renfrew’s downtown Toronto flagship store. “It’s not something that I’ve mastered. It’s very new to me still, and I think that’s part of the excitement for me. “I think I want to try to keep making each collection better and new and fresh, but still kind of stay true to the core and DNA of the brand.” The Holt Renfrew in-store meet-and-greet was Zoe’s first public appearance since launching the line, which features ready-to-wear, footwear and handbags. The luxury retailer will carry the collection exclusively in Canada, with items ranging from $150 to around $695. Zoe said she sees the collection as a way to bring her own voice and vision to the forefront while also filling a void on the fashion landscape. “Obviously there’s no shortage of beautiful, luxurious, incredible clothes out there,” said Zoe, wearing a shimmering black sequinned top and black tuxedo pants. “I just felt for me, I just wanted to be able to walk in and buy several pieces from one collection in an affordable price point that looked really, really expensive and felt really expensive and were tailored properly in the kind of era and style that I wanted.” Zoe drew on myriad influences — including her own closet — channelling inspirations such as ’60s-era glam and the uptown sophisticate. Bow blouses, maxi dresses, sequinned shifts, faux-fur leather jackets, military-inspired wool jackets and wide-legged pants are in the fall range, as well as booties, heels and totes. Zoe said she conceived the collection to offer something palatable to all style tastes and budgets that could be mixed and matched with existing wardrobe pieces. “A lot of women can’t go in and spend $3,500 on a jacket. And for the women that can do that, I hope they still buy my collection,” she said. “I don’t think it’s for necessarily people on a budget. I think it’s really meant to work into any woman’s wardrobe that loves fashion, loves style, has confidence in who she is and is just super-savvy.” Zoe was able to bend the ear of renowned American designer and pal Marc Jacobs for guidance on the line. “I certainly asked Marc a couple of times for just thoughts on when I was hiring my team,” she said.”He gave me a lot of insight into the types of people you want to be around every day and work with so regularly. “Obviously I listen to every word he says because clearly what he’s done has worked, and he’s probably one of the most brilliant people in this industry.” Zoe recently added first-time parent to her growing list of titles, giving birth to son Skyler in March. The subject of motherhood will be front and centre in the latest season of the “The Rachel Zoe Project.” The reality series offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Zoe’s personal and professional life. Zoe said the fourth season, which premieres Oct. 10 on CosmoTV, will see a number of faces joining her team. Due to her pregnancy, she was unable to travel to the collections as she has in past seasons to meet designers and scout the latest looks for future red carpets. “There isn’t as much what I like to say `fashion porn’ in it, but there are a lot of great moments, and a lot of laughs.” ——— Online: Rachel Zoe:

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