Last night on The Rachel Zoe Project, Rachel had to do what she always does, which is the impossible, generally speaking. This episode's impossible task was finding dresses for Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore a couple of days before the Oscars, after so many dresses she'd had her eye on slipped through her fingers, presumably to other stylists dressing other celebrities, like Oscar winner Sandra Bullock. Rachel's task is made even more stressful when Milan Fashion Week doesn't deliver the red-carpet moments she's expecting — it was more like a moment at the Pucci show, which was not nearly enough.
Of course Rachel never pauses for even five seconds of introspection as to why the moments she craved didn't happen on the runways this season. Allow us to do that for her: These shows occurred in February, when the economy was still pretty uncertain, and designers had latched onto minimalism after a terrible selling season. Maybe this just wasn't the time for Zoe's preferred sort of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am glamour. But no matter, off Brad went to Van Cleef & Arpels to ogle rare museum-quality emeralds and cognac diamonds flown in specially from Europe, shining so brightly that he jokes about needing to keep his sunglasses on to play with them. And one can't help but think that, if Rachel had taken a cue from the quiet, minimal mood on the runways, she would have taken a different approach to dressing her clients. But alas, this is the world of Rachel Zoe and it is as reliably insular as it is gauche — and entertaining. More of what we learned from last night's episode:
Things We Learned About Fashion:
• Armani is more important than penne. Rachel forces Rodger and Brad to leave theirs behind when they learn the show is about to start. No wonder Rodger gets so bitchy sometimes — he can never eat a proper manly meal.
• Rachel: "There’s nothing more chic than when you wear black with a pop of bright color."
• Being at the receiving end of words coming out of Giorgio Armani's mouth is more important that what those words mean. "I don’t really understand what he’s saying to me but it doesn’t really matter. He’s just so beyond," Rachel gushes after she schmoozes with him post-show.
• The reason Rachel needs to go to shows is to personally kiss up to designers so she can cultivate a friendship (well, the fashion kind) with them and borrow dresses from them when she needs them.
• Rachel loves Pucci, obviously, because of the prints and fabrics. "It’s just right on trend," she says. Eh, it's one of those labels that tends to stick to a somewhat strict aesthetic that evolves a bit each season, rather than pushing the trend of the moment and going in surprising new directions, but in Rachel's mind, where the seventies rule, it is always on trend.
• When you work in fashion, being sick is okay. Ha, NOT. "It's really bad timing that Ashley is off sick during the Oscars, and I know she can't help it," Brad says. "However, this is the big event in the styling world, and it's really bad timing." Later: "If you want to work in fashion, you have to constantly prove that you are indispensable. And the fact that Ashley is not here and not visible and not showing Rachel how amazing she is, is really bad. Because Rachel's seeing that we don't need her. And now it's like — it's done." What a sweet friend and reliable colleague.
• The only people Rachel wants to sartorially downplay are cross-dressers. She always seems to want her fur bigger, her sequins sparklier, her colors brighter. But Johnny Weir is a special kind of client for her, and she wants to rein in his flamboyance so Hollywood takes him more seriously. Wait, what?
• Johnny Weir knows the proper way to express approval of a multi-colored fur Muppet coat. "I just want to rub my face in you right now!" he tells Rachel when she wears it around the office.
• When you become a style director for someone like Rachel, you "don’t have time to be on feather patrol," as Brad explains when the Pucci dress arrives looking, in person, like a giant dead bird.
• When you can't find dresses from runway collections, ask designers to custom-make them for you! Donatella Versace swoops to Rachel's Oscar rescue with two custom options for Demi.
• Rachel: “When Demi stepped onto that red carpet, I think everyone froze." Or felt dizzy from all those tiers and ruffles. Take your pick.
• Reason Rachel Doesn't Need a Baby to Feel Fulfilled in Life No. 18,292,384: “When I obsess over a dress it’s kind of like being pregnant with a dress. It’s like you carry it, you carry it, you carry it, and then you deliver it on the red carpet.”
Thing We Learned About Life:
• When in Italy, eat pasta for breakfast! Brad and Rodger indulge in penne at a café since they have time to kill before the Armani show starts. Rachel enjoys what looks like tea, which obviously didn't look nearly as delicious.
• Signing autographs in foreign lands is much more fun than signing autographs in one's homeland. "Dante. I love these names. Dante," Rachel enthuses over a fan's notepad.
• The benefit to Rodger adopting a blow-up doll for those times Rachel is busy and refuses to pay attention to him? "She comes without a shopping problem," Brad explains.
• Rachel: "I think there's a million people out there waiting to see me fail. It makes for a better story. It's what people want to see. They don't like success stories." Actually, we'd be more interested in seeing Rodger take the Rachel Zoe blow-up doll to a spaghetti-and-meatball dinner.
• It's okay to shamelessly tell Rachel Zoe, "I wanted to, like, look as skinny as possible," as Johnny does when he arrives to her studio. It's also okay to say "thank-you" when someone says "You look tiny." Ra-ra fashion!!!!!!!!!!
• Johnny Weir can have surprising effects on people. Take Brad, who says, "I’m actually masculine next to him." The key is to know thyself, which Brad does. "I don’t know if that really works for me," he adds.
• Forced fashion parties aren't fun if your date isn't fun. Rodger used to enjoy all these luncheons and Champagne-saturated schmooze-fests that he must attend all the time with Rachel, but doesn't have fun when she's sick and stressed out over finding two outfits for an award show. "Going to these social things is work," he says. As opposed to before when they ... didn't try?
• When your husband gets bitchy, feed him! Rodger gets up at eight on the day of the Oscars, gets his hair and makeup done next to Rachel, and then rides around in the car with her to keep her calm. However, he's in such a bad mood over all of it that he picks the most amusing fight with her after she bails on brunch with him:
Rodger: It's just the worst.
Rachel: I'm gonna check in with Brad. Hi, B.
Rachel: Hi. Checking in on you.
Rodger: I'm, like, next to her, trying to be there for her, and, like, she couldn't care less. She's, like, married to Brad.
Rachel: I'm on my way to Cameron.
Brad: I'm just heading to Demi's now.
Rachel: You're heading to Demi's?
Rachel: All right.
Rodger: [Sighs.] I'm gonna be so excited when this is over. I cannot listen to another [bleep] conversation about dresses.
Rachel: You say that every year.
Rodger: And I've really had enough.
Rachel: What the hell are you so cranky about? You get to have brunch and go watch a viewing party. I don't want to hear [bleep] from you right now.
Rodger: I'm just cranky.
Rachel: Maybe you need to eat.
Rodger: I do need to eat. I'm already, like, a half-hour late because I was waiting for you.
Rachel: Oh, God, you're really on fire today. Jesus.
Rodger: Well, what do you want?
Rachel: I want you to be pleasant. This is a big day for me and my clients, not you, so just calm down. You go through this every year. This is your tenth year at the Oscars. Why do you even bother complaining about it?
Rodger: Because it's annoying.
Hmmm. We're going to side with Rodger on this one. But Rachel can learn an important lesson from this and start carrying cookies in her baby bag.
• If you want to keep your wife's other husband out of the house, hide the chips! Brad lets himself into Rachel's apartment when she and Rodger are out, grabs a bag of chips, plops down on the couch, and starts drooling over Jake Gyllenhaal on the red carpet. And that is Reason Rachel Doesn't Need a Baby to Feel Fulfilled in Life No. 18,292,385.