Conversation with Joe Zee, ELLE's Creative Director @MrJoeZee

Joe Zee Elle Creative DirectorJoe Zee, ELLE’s Creative Director
Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
Valentino Boutique, Bal Harbour Shops
By: Marie-Junie Pierre
Creative Director, Joe Zee has brought his incomparable style, creativity and editorial expertise to Elle Magazine since his appointment as Elle’s creative director in February, 2007. As one of the most talented and sought after fashion stylists in the industry, Mr. Zee is the talent behind the print and advertising campaigns of many well known brands including Banana Republic, DKNY, Kenneth Cole, Sean John, and Oscar de la Renta, just to name a few. He worked as a Fashion Director at the W for many years and has worked alongside some of today’s leading fashion photographers including Tom Munro, Michael Thompson, and Carter Smith. Despite Mr. Zee’s amazing success, he still finds a way to give back to the community through charitable organizations and participation in charitable activities. Mr. Zee was present at the Valentino Boutique, in Bal Harbour, one of the city’s most shopping centers where today’s fashionistas, socialites and celebrities come to pick up the latest and hottest trends. The event which was hosted by Andria Ares Holtz, Paola Pacheco, and Esther Porto B was a night of champagne, fashion and shopping. Valentino donated ten percent of the sales proceeds of the night to the Jackson Memorial Foundation, Holtz Children’s Hospital, and the International Kids Fund in support of Rally for Kids with Cancer Scavenger Cup. Premier Guide Miami’s Marie-Junie Pierre had a chance to get up close and personal with the Creative Director and ask him a couple of questions throughout the event.

PGM: You have worked with and styled some of today’s most famous celebrities including Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Cruise, Justin Timberlake, Keira Knightley and one of my personal favorites, Chloe Sevigny. What is the best way you think one can pull off the Chloe Sevigny look? 

JZ: The thing about Chloe Sevigny is that she does not take a look off the runway and wear it that way. She takes an idea of fashion and mixes it all around, and wears it to fit her personality. That’s my favorite part about Chloe. There isn’t any particular fashion that represents her. She represents herself and that’s why I think she has such great personal style. She is actually designing her own clothes now and I think that any woman who wants to pull off Chloe’s look should have an appraising personal style and know what works for her. There are no rules in fashion, everything happens and everything works. We all live in different temperatures, different climates and we all have different ideas. That’s what fashion is about.

PGM: Out of everyone that you have worked with, do you have any personal favorites? Who was the most fun to work with?

JZ: Asking me my favorite celebrity is like asking me to name my favorite child and that is a really hard thing to do. I have styled and worked with Julia Roberts for ten years and I love her. She is a really sincere, smart, accomplished and well achieved person. I also love Sarah Jessica Parker. She has such great personal style and knows fashion inside out, to the point that I think she is teaching me things sometimes.

PGM: Is there anybody in the industry that you haven’t worked with who you would like the opportunity to work with?

JZ: I would love to work with Angelina Jolie. I have never worked with her and I think she is absolutely beautiful. She has the modern look and I would love to dress her one day.

PGM: Do you have any particular style in mind that you would like to try on Miss Jolie?

JZ: I think that anything she wears would be incredible.

PGM. I would love the chance to see that as well. A friend of mine wants to make the transition from solids to prints. She has never tried prints before and doesn’t know where to start. What do you think is the best way to transition from solids to prints?

JZ: I would advise her to start subtly. The best way to move into a trend is through the accessories so she can start with a printed bag if she is wearing a lot of neutral colors or she can try a bright colored top under a solid colored jacket. The transition has to be gradual as she would have to adjust the way she dresses as well as her self perception.

PGM: I completely agree. Do you have any particular fabrics that you like to work with?

JZ: There isn’t one particular type of fabric that I like but I do love a mix of fabrics. I love mixing wool with leather and suede with cotton. I love the mix of different textures.

PGM: The average woman in America cannot afford the Chloe bag and the Salvatore shoes although stores like H& M and Forever 21 are making it easier to get brand names at affordable prices. However, I do acknowledge that there are signature pieces that a woman should splurge on. What do you think is worth splurging on?

JZ: I think the great thing in today’s market is that one can find the trends at every price but if one has to splurge, it should be invested in a bag. A great classic bag is a signature piece that one can carry everywhere all the time.

PGM: When casting models for a shoot, what are the things that the average person does not know that stylists look for in a model? Is there something in particular that catches your eye when a model walks into the room?

JZ: A lot of people look at models as two dimensional people, as pretty girls who just wear clothes and look good in pictures. The truth is that they are three dimensional people with a lot of personality. Personality definitely catches my eye and I try to bring that across the page.

PGM: In addition to styling for a magazine spread, I understand that you have also done styling for a campaign. What is the difference between the two?

JZ: With the magazine spread, I get to be creative and have fun. I get to do fantasy stuff for fashion and please the reader. When it comes to campaigns, I get to talk about the product, the brand and the signature of the brand.

PGM: I know everyone always asks you about the most stylish woman of the moment. Is there any particular guy in the industry that you consider to be stylish?

JZ: I love guys that are effortless and don’t think too much, the guys with jeans and tee shirts, like Jake Gyllenhaal. They look amazing.

PGM: Many people of our time consider Audrey Hepburn as a fashion icon. She was able to pull off any look which she tried with effortless elegance and glamour. Designers and celebrities alike still look towards her for inspiration in our present day and age. Who do you consider to be your fashion icon of all time?

JZ: I met Kate Moss over twenty years ago and I have worked with her, befriended her and followed her throughout the years. I believe Kate changed the entire perception of what style and glamour is. In 30 years, when I look back, I would say, someone like Kate Moss for completely changing our perception of fashion. That is a huge accomplishment. It is monumental.

PGM: What was it like working on a show like Stylista? 

JZ: I loved mentoring the kids and working with the magazine. Stylista was a great show to do. I had a lot of fun.

PGM: Thank you so much Mr. Zee for giving Premier Guide Miami the chance to meet with you. I hope you enjoy tonight’s event.

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