Rachel Zoe dresses not-so-typical working woman

2012-09-18T08:00:00Z 2012-10-06T20:21:46Z Rachel Zoe dresses not-so-typical working womanBY DEBRA D. BASS • Post-Dispatch Fashion Editor • dbass@post-dispatch.com • 314-340-8236 stltoday.com

A-list, fashion-obsessed, paparazzi-stalked, red carpet-walkers need work clothes too, right.

To that end, stylist, designer, fashion entrepreneur and proud working mom Rachel Zoe debuted a languid luxe collection for Spring 2013. After presenting her collection to the media, top fashion industry buyers and critics on Wednesday, she did a fitting encore runway presentation for a huge audience of working women the next day. As a bonus, the encore included six never-before-seen looks.

Zoe was the featured designer for this season exclusive, American Express Cardmember-Only Fashion Show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. The runway show took place in the same room that had been vacated by Vivienne Tam, Nanette Lepore, Charlotte Ronson and the like.

Zoe was perhaps, the perfect subject for the private runway showing because her line is particularly consumer-friendly. The components were simple and interesting and the accessories were plentiful. And Zoe's status as a celebrity stylist gives her opinions a lot of weight.

"I want to go outside my comfort zone and focus on what young women and women want to wear," Zoe said during a Q&A session before her presentation. "I want to design for the woman I want to be."

Zoe said that that woman loves fashion, but is not a victim of it. By most accounts, Zoe seemed to be dressing the woman she already is, but considering her style credentials that's not such a bad thing.

This season, Zoe (sold in Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and piperlime.com among other places) kept her palette simple, mostly black and white with some 70s color including burnt orange and turquoise.

The audience of mostly women paid $50 (standing) to $250 (front row) for a fashion insider's experience. The evening started with cocktails in the lobby of the famed Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tent. Next the sold out-crowd was seated and treated to some witty banter from Zoe and Prabal Gurung, an innovative designer who's celebrity fans include political heavyweights First Lady Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

Zoe's show ended up being the very last presentation before the tents were dismantled until fashion week in February.

Gurung said that he was channeling Oprah for his Q&A with Zoe. Oprah has also worn Gurung many times, most notably on the cover of her magazine.

Zoe said that though she's a designer, her first love will always be styling. She's become synonymous with California red carpet casual. In the past her creations have included dramatic silhouettes that look like fabric had been poured over her favored ultra-thin starlets. She's also a fan of hats, huge handbags and bold, erratic jewelry.

Now that many of her famed clients, like Zoe herself, are now mothers. Zoe didn't make her clothes any less glamorous (a favorite is the limp exaggerated t-shirt over a sequin maxi skirt), but she did include some concessions for the working mom. For one thing, there were updated fanny packs. Yes, you read that correctly. If anyone can make this fashion statement a do rather than a don't, it's probably Zoe.

On the dubious side, Zoe also factored in a number of jumpsuits, huge floppy hats and towering platforms, which will be a hard sell for the typical career woman or stay-at-home mom. Though few average moms will relate to Zoe's glamorous A-list clientele or the new mom's idea of casual fashion, Zoe seemed sincere in wanting the best for working moms and women on-the-go.

Who doesn't want to channel the ease and comfortable glamor of a 1970s Jane Birkin. 

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Debra D. Bass

Fashion editor Debra D. Bass is a native of Las Vegas who now calls St. Louis home. She believes that fashion can be glorious, exalting, frustrating, capricious and humorous, but good style is above reproach.

Follow Debra on Twitter at twitter.com/debrabass.

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