When we think style, we think Rachel Zoe. The original celebrity stylist–turned–businesswoman and entrepreneur demonstrates that while style is all about the visual and what we wear, it’s also something that comes from within. With her many accomplishments, Zoe has left her fashion footprint on the East End—and the world. Now, she’s back in the Hamptons for the summer and sharing with Spotlight how she’s taking her brand to new heights.
“I was always the most overdressed and never wore what everyone else wore. I no doubt was just attracted to whatever was beautiful and was drawn to it like a magnet.”
Rachel, we’re so excited that you’re our July 4th cover star! Why do you continue to choose to summer Out East each year?
The Hamptons is home for me in the summer. Since I was born, my parents started taking me, and I’ve spent the majority of every summer of my life there since. When I lived in NYC, it was a second home, and even though we’re now out in Los Angeles, we still continue to spend our summer months there with our family. The greatest memories of my life are in the Hamptons with my closest friends and family.
What does a typical July 4th weekend look like for you here?
The Fourth of July is always busy for me because I celebrate the birthdays of my mom, dad, and sister. I’m a Virgo in a family of cancers. I put it on myself to always plan the parties, dinners, and get special gifts. This weekend is typically right after we arrive, so it’s about trying to spend quality time with friends, go on a boat, or sit on the beach and watch fireworks with my boys.
What gives you fireworks?
Honestly, a peaceful day. One where I’m not overloaded with obligations and I can spend stress-free time with my kids. Or an epic beach day, one of those long summer days that turn into night.
Since the pandemic, nearly every major designer brand has opened their doors Out East. What do you think of this shift in the Hamptons fashion scene?
I have contradicting feelings on this. I’m so happy to see some of my favorite designers in proximity and easily accessible to the community, but on the other hand I’ve always loved the beachy feeling of all the small boutiques that I’ve been going to for so many years.
We can relate! How do you describe your summer Hamptons style?
My summer uniform in the Hamptons is always a flowy caftan in bright colors and fun patterns. I tend to live in vintage, and new Missoni, Etro, Saint Laurent, Altuzarra, and Johanna Ortiz are just a few of my favorite brands during the summer. I always pair these with a wedge, a chunky necklace, earrings, and big sunnies.
You’re a stylist, a designer, a podcast host, an entrepreneur, and an author. What’s exciting you most right now in your career?
There are a few things I’m working on that are exciting me right now. My podcast, “Climbing In Heels,” choosing new curations each season for Curateur, and all the new expansions of my brand with different partners in multiple categories, and potential TV partners is fun and exciting.
Is there anything that’s still on your professional bucket list today?
While I’m reminded by others and myself that I’ve achieved certain things throughout my career, complacency is not something I believe in and I’m always looking to improve, build, and expand the Rachel Zoe brand to its furthest potential.
You were one of the first celebrity stylists. What do you think of the current state of celebrity styling?
That’s a complex question. There are several stylists I call friends that I’ve enjoyed watching their success reach new levels. I’ve watched some peers that I’ve known from the beginning continue to soar. That said, as a result of social media, I think sometimes the lines get blurred between the talent and the stylist. And with that said, I’ve seen there is without question tremendous support [from celebrities] to advocate for their stylist, which was something that I rarely experienced in my career.
Why did you decide to pause from that part of your career?
I needed to take a pause from the daily grind of styling for multiple reasons. I always said that I would be a stylist as long as I continued to love it. I started to wake up every day and not be able to remember why I loved it. That came at a time where I had been betrayed and couldn’t trust the people that I needed to trust to help me execute my job the way that I needed to. Simultaneously, I was launching my clothing collection and multiple other parts of my business that needed my time and attention along with two young children. I thought it would be a good time to step away, reset, and remember why I love it in the first place.
Would you ever go back to styling?
After a several-year-long pause from styling, it’s only this past year that I’ve started to feel ready to go back to styling, but only with one or two clients who would enjoy the fashion ride with me. I’ve started to feel the fire for it again.
Do you remember the moment where you first fell in love with fashion?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved and been drawn to beautiful women with amazing fashion sense. Whether in the Hamptons, or in Europe, I would see women in caftans; they were tan, arms filled with incredible gold jewelry. As soon as I started traveling and noticing these women, I started looking at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and would melt over the pages of magazines. From that point on, I was always the most overdressed and never wore what everyone else wore. I no doubt was just attracted to whatever was beautiful and was drawn to it like a magnet. It was like brainwash.
You’re a born and bred New Yorker. Have you ever thought about moving back to the East Coast?
Similar to being a stylist, I think it’s over this past year, post-pandemic and coming back around to life that I’ve begun to miss the sort of fast-paced nature of my fashion and entertainment life back then. I’ve started to miss the culture, energy, and style of NYC. If I were to move back, I would have to live between the city and the Hamptons because I would need grass, space, and nature. While I love L.A., the people, and the lifestyle there, I start to desperately miss the flavor of the city, the 9–10 p.m. diners, and meeting friends around the corner for a drink. That said, I don’t know when or if I would make the move back.
We’d love to have you back here! What’s your secret to balancing your career and being a wife and mom?
The juggle and the struggle is real, as any working mother would tell you. I try to tackle each day with a “winging it” approach. I try to maintain a calm and positivity around my children always and focus on being present. I try to get the majority of work done before they finish school, so I can focus on being Mom when they come home.
You mentioned your podcast, “Climbing in Heels.” It’s one of our faves! Who is your dream podcast guest?
The queen. Oprah all the way!
Because your podcast focuses on female powerhouses, who are the women who inspire you most in your life?
From a young age, my mother and sister have been the two that inspire me the most. I’ve admired my mother for her fearlessness with her voice. She is politically active, campaigning for equal rights and women’s rights since she was a teenager. I’ve been raised by a strong female who taught me women can do anything, so in that sense my mother. My sister is a single working mom who raised two extraordinary kids who are the best kids I know. Other strong female figures for me: Oprah from the minute I started watching her; she is everything. Iman has been a friend and mentor throughout my entire career who inspires me in so many ways. I was also inspired by Princess Diana, who used her position of power in such a new way that it was so clear she was a voice for the people and for good. I’m always attracted to and inspired by women who define a role in a unique way.
What are your top tips for female entrepreneurs trying to succeed in their careers today?
Don’t let age trip you up. Don’t put up roadblocks for yourself; as women we do that a lot. We are our own worst enemies. It’s never too late to start a career, and it’s never too late to pivot your career. Once you’re over the age of 30, people get nervous and think they need to know exactly what they want to be doing. Sometimes, I think it’s your second or third act that’s the real winner and where you ultimately end up. I think your twenties and early thirties are about learning a ton before you find your place.
August will mark your 32nd anniversary with your husband, Rodger. What’s the key to your marriage?
First, I want to clarify that it is our “first date” anniversary. Our actual wedding anniversary is February 15th. We celebrated our 25th year of marriage this past year. I choose to celebrate our first-date anniversary because we have basically been together every day since we met. The secret is accepting each other’s everything. Rodger and I are different in so many ways; we approach some aspects of our life drastically different, but at the core we share the same values and the same perspectives on what matters in life, how we raise our children. We agree on all the big things. I’m happiest in a ball gown, and he’s happiest in a Grateful Dead T-shirt. The secret, if I had to say one thing, is we have an unbreakable trust in each other, and that’s something that is not a given and something we don’t take for granted. Having independence and codependence is extremely important.
Tell us about Curateur and what inspired this concept!
Ever since I stopped styling, I’ve always found a way to style and curate looks for friends and family. When I started Curateur, it was truly a way for me to continue to curate every aspect of a woman’s life. From accessories to need-to-know lifestyle and wellness brands, I wanted to put the best of the best in front of my audience and help them feel confident and stylish in all aspects of their life.
How are you activating Curateur Out East this summer?
Each year, we activate Curateur Out East through a beautiful seated supper and summer celebration. We highlight some of our amazing partnerships that we work with all year long. It’s truly one of my favorite nights of the summer and such a special time to bring together my community out in the Hamptons during the summer. This year, we’re having it at the beautiful Wölffer Estate Vineyard, co-hosted by my good friend Joey Wölffer, and I couldn’t be more excited!
What are your favorite Hamptons spots?
Dureya’s and Crow’s Nest in Montauk, Le Bilboquet and Tutto il Giorno in Sag Harbor. My favorite beaches to go with my boys are Egypt Lane and Georgica Beach.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m a homebody and an introvert who built a career on being an extrovert. I love people, my friends, and I feel grateful for those in my life, but given the choice I will always choose watching a movie with my boys on the couch than a night out. I think that’s a result of spending 15 years traveling, working 24/7, and being all over the world.
Who are your favorite living fashion designers and fashion influencers?
Giambattista Valli, Mr. Valentino, Tom Ford, and Marc Jacobs are my favorite designers right now. My favorite fashion influencers would have to be Carine Roitfeld, Chiara Ferragni, Giovanna Battaglia, and Anna Dello Russo.
What’s your go-to pair of heels?
Valentino platforms in every color imaginable. Black, gold, and nude are always my go-to.
What’s next for you?
Continuing to work on all my companies and brands, Curateur, my podcast, Rachel Zoe Ventures, my license partnerships, and a potential TV opportunity down the line!