L.A. and New York are both known for their unique fashion — and fashion disasters. And in the latest season of his Sundance Channel show, All on the Line, Elle magazine creative director Joe Zee has to deal with it all.
More like Gordon Ramsay on Kitchen Nightmares than Project Runway mentor, Tim Gunn, Zee's job on his reality show (which just started its third season) is to fix troubled fashion brands and use his own connections and knowledge to help designers, well, make it work. In a new twist, the normally New York-based show is in Los Angeles for part of the season. Zee has been guiding local designers like Brooke Rodd, Ina Soltani and Domino Dollhouse's Tracy Broxterman. This season's challenges feature everyone from Octavia Spencer and Zoe Kazan to Zee's “old friend” and former The City star Whitney Port.
Although he is routinely out here for work, this occasion marked the first time that Zee spent an extended period of time in L.A. (he celebrated by renting a house in the Hills). He was kind enough to share his thoughts on the importance of Los Angeles in fashion and how our styles differ from those on his home turf.
1. We have more famous people.
“We do live in a culture now that's about red carpet dressing,” says Zee. “It's a culture about celebrities and you can't ignore that. If you want to work in the world of fashion and be successful, at some point celebrity culture and red carpet culture is going to have to cross your path. That's something that we tackle in every single episode … The fact that I can explain to these designers who are struggling that the fact that you are dressing everyone from a morning anchor to an Oscar winner is equally important because they have big audiences.”
2. We're the city that never ages — and we've grown up.
“With the onset of designers like [Kate and Laura Mulleavy of] Rodarte, Scott Sternberg for Band Of Outsiders, the fact that Galliano is living there now … I think what we thought once upon a time as being a land of jeans and T-shirts has really morphed into a different take in the world of fashion and it's not really something that can be ignored anymore,” says Zee.
3. We make street fashion our own.
“There's something about L.A. street fashion I like,” says Zee. “It's just really carefree, it's easy. I think what is nice is there is always a cool, effortless casualness of it. It's certainly defined by the girls on The Hills, but I think they can work denim shorts. They can wear classic American staples mixed into something that feels effortless and cool, but it never feels sloppy.”
4. We'll take a meeting, but we won't dress for the occasion.
“I remember the first time I went to a meeting in LA, I was wearing a suit and the person I was having a meeting with was wearing like jeans and a T-shirt and I was really envious,” says Zee. “I felt way overdressed and I thought, I want to be like that. The fact that you can have a serious meeting with a very casual look is impressive. It's not just about what you wear, but what you do. And I kind of like that.”
5. We know where you live.
“People love their neighborhood because it's just a pocket of who they are, so whether you're Silver Lake or you're Venice or you're Santa Monica, you're in the Hills or the Valley, people are sort of defined by their hoods and I kind of like that,” Zee says. “I can always tell who lives in Silver Lake and who's just coming in to have dinner. I went to have dinner in Silver Lake one night and I looked around the restaurant and it was amazing restaurant. I was looking around and I was like I certainly don't live in this neighborhood. But I was with a friend who did and it was just an obvious, innate thing. Maybe it's because I work in fashion and I notice these things.”