Stylist turned media and fashion mogul Rachel Zoe has expanded her empire to include jewelry.
“It’s fancy, but it’s not,” Zoe said during a recent viewing of the collection in her Melrose Avenue showroom. Inspired by her favorite things, including Art Deco and 1960s and 1970s glam, the pieces make a big statement — like Zoe herself. “I’ve never been subtle,” she said.
Indeed, this is the kind of jewelry that lets every woman have a red carpet moment, whether it’s at lunch with friends or at a charity gala. The line, priced $195 to $650, currently is being introduced at NeimanMarcus.com and in 42 Neiman Marcus stores nationwide.
“This, I have not stopped wearing since I got it,” Zoe said, fingering the chunky, twisted gold rope and tassel sautoir necklace ($650) that she wore with a skinny, black pantsuit. “You can tie it in front, drape it around your neck like a scarf and let the ends hang in front or drape down the back.”
Looking at the necklace, I immediately thought of one of Zoe’s most memorable styling coups: Kate Hudson at the 2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards in that sexy, backless, long-sleeved, white Emilio Pucci gown with a Cartier tassel sautoir draped against her bare back. It was such an effective flourish that it may have single-handedly brought tassel jewelry back into fashion. (I know it prompted me to get a tassel necklace that belonged to my grandmother out of the drawer and start wearing it.)
“Since I’ve started styling, I’ve always loved a super-low back with a necklace worn against it,” Zoe explained.
Her ability to create a red carpet look that translates to the real world explains how Zoe’s styling is informing her burgeoning fashion business. And indeed, her Los Angeles headquarters includes a floor for her celebrity styling business, as well as a floor for the Rachel Zoe Media Group, where she oversees an editorial staff that publishes daily email newsletters the Zoe Report, Zoe Beautiful and AccessZOEries. Design of the jewelry collection is also done here in L.A., while the apparel collection is designed in New York, where she will present her spring 2013 runway show at fashion week in September.
Zoe picked up another piece of jewelry, a Wonder Woman-like cuff with a circular, shield-like embellishment in yellow gold, black enamel and crystal stones ($420). “I love putting one of these on each arm. This is a piece,” Zoe said with emphasis. There are gobstopper-sized cocktail rings with jade-colored stones, stackable bangles with alternating strips of black enamel and crystals, Lucite link collar necklaces, cuffs with interlocking knots, and dangling black and gold fringe earrings, all of which will be rolled out in Neiman Marcus stores over the next couple of months.
“I feel like I have been designing this collection for the last 20 years,” Zoe said. “I sketched and drew a lot of inspiration from my archives. And my research involved a lot of trial and error. After the first prototypes, I decided if I liked this or that, changed chains and stones.”
Zoe has quite an impressive personal jewelry collection too, which I have been able to see the two times I’ve toured her closet. She loves vintage Chanel, Miriam Haskell, Lanvin, Cartier and Bulgari pieces.
Her new collection is about giving her customers a taste of that glamour, albeit a less expensive one. “People want fun things that they can wear with jeans and a T-shirt and make their look that much better, which is why each piece has a lot to it,” she said.
When the jewelry collection expands beyond Neiman Marcus into other stores for spring, the line also will broaden to include smaller, more subtle pieces — in other words, not so much bling.
“For me, I have never stopped wearing big jewelry, some bigger than my appendages,” Zoe said. “But it’s not for everybody. And since my son has been born, there are more delicate things that I sleep in and don’t take off. Anita Ko made me a necklace that’s a vertical bar engraved with my son Skyler’s name and birth date, and Hilary Tisch made me a couple of delicate pieces with his name on them too.”
So will fine jewelry be next?
“Why not? I never say never. It’s the same reason I will probably go into high-end evening wear eventually. Why not play with the real stuff?”