Joe Zee Debuts Second Season of His Sundance Series, Talks Spring Style (Q&A)

Joe Zee All on the Line - H 2011
Heather Waraska

Joe Zee All on the Line - H 2011

The Elle creative director dishes his style tips and predictions to THR, and continues to provide design-house makeovers on the newest episodes of "All On the Line with Joe Zee."

Joe Zee, creative director of Elle, will resume his place on the Sundance Channel with his fashion-rescue series All on the Line with Joe Zee (airing Nov. 25). In the second season of his show, Zee will aid designers in need of a business and/or design makeover. Each episode will explore a different label in order to find the glitch responsible for bringing the design house down. In order to re-inspire and re-launch the lines, Zee will enlist the help of industry pals such as model Veronica Webb, American Idol alum Adam Lambert, James Mischka of Badgley Mischka, designer Rachel Roy and fashionista Olivia Palermo. Zee talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the designer’s favorite trends and biggest challenges, in addition to his predictions for spring style and his fashion faves.

The Hollywood Reporter: What trends did the designers you were working with latch onto this season?

Zee: There were so many great ideas that came out of the designers for the season. The biggest trend was really the message about color. Big, bright, bold hues and it was refreshing to see in so many different ways. There was also this return to androgynous dressing that really played well. But overall, it was about a new level of elegance and sophistication.

THR: What are some of the biggest challenges they faced?

Zee: The biggest challenge every designer faced this season was understanding who their customer is. I think its great to have a fantasy version of your "woman" but it's another to hear and see them firsthand. And of course, the designers all had some sort of creative block within them that they just needed a bit of nudging to unlock. Not an easy process, but doable. Sometimes, at least.

THR: What elements of design do they think help to set a collection aside from the masses?

Zee: I think being true to who they were. For example, for one designer, Aysha Saeed, I encouraged her to find inspiration in her roots to conceptualize a collection that wasn't generic. I loved the results. But you decide for yourself.

THR: Who is their target audience?

Zee: For most of these designers, we really focused on the contemporary market. I think it's great to strive to dress a luxury customer but ultimately, you want to see your clothes on everybody.

THR: What are your fashion predictions for spring style?

Zee: I saw so many great ideas on the runways for spring. Some of my favorites:
1) Athletic influence: Sporty influences, racing stripes, car racing details were big but always with a sexy, feminine edge.
2) Color: Who doesn't want to see bright shots of color after a long winter? The brighter, the better.
3) Peplum: The 80's are still here. I love that silhouette with the new peplum.

THR: Who are your favorite designers?

Zee: I go through different phases but right now I am obsessed with wearing Givenchy men's suits. But Dries Van Noten and Gucci suits have always been my go-to staples. And Church's for the classic shoes.

THR: What are your favorite stores?

Zee: I love shopping when I'm away on a trip for work or fun. I bought a bunch of stuff at Givenchy in Paris, but also love shopping in LA, London and Tokyo. In New York, you'll probably just find me at Barneys or J. Crew.

THR: What is your favorite under-the-radar store?

Zee: I love all the little shops in Tokyo. Every one has so much character and charm, even the non-fashion shops. Tokyu Hands is a hardware store there that has such an interesting collection of things. I just want to bring home bags of screws and nails.

THR: What are your travel must-haves?

Zee: I always travel with all my electronics (laptop, ipad, ipod, Bowers and Wilkens headphones, chargers, etc) and always in a comfy sweatshirt. I want to be chic on a plane but I think I'd rather be comfortable.

THR: What is your favorite red-carpet moment?

Zee: Cher in Bob Mackie with her crazy mohawk headdress. Red carpet dressing today is so safe and I miss those outlandish moments like Cher. Plus Bob Mackie is so underrated, right? I think it's time for a Bob revival.