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September 13, 2007 -- Joe Zee

Joe Zee
Joe Zee was appointed as ELLE's creative director in January 2007 after many successful years as fashion director at W and as contributing fashion editor at Details and House & Garden. On Sept. 13, 2007, he chatted on about fall fashion, magazines, and jewelry.
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Joe_Zee: Hi everyone, this is Joe Zee from Elle magazine. i just finished all the New York fashion shows last week and I'm here to answer any style questions you might have. Fire away.
housefrau__Guest___Guest_: joe! i love high fashion, but i am a chubby broke housewife. i can only buy inexpensive things, but then i have to keep and wear them for a long time. any tips on what i can focus on when i hit target or [shudder] kmart? thanks!
Joe_Zee: hi housefrau, first of all, i wouldn't shudder at the thought of retailers like kmart or target. All those stores are doing small collections with young designers. For example, Kohl's is launching a line with Vera Wang and Target just did something with Erin Featherston, and the clothes are super cute. I would focus on simple basics first..,Start with black and neutral colors and easy to mix items (pants, skirts, tops)..Think granimals for adults and it won'e be hard. In regards to size, i think the number one mistake is that people tend to purchase things too big for them. Go for items that actually fit and you'll be able to keep those items for a long time.
fedora__Guest_: JZ- what are the hottest colors this fall?
Joe_Zee: This fall there's a lot of autumn colors, like mustard and burgundy and purple. Have a look at the Marc Jacobs collection where he did them all. And of course, for neutrals, gray was huge - in everything from coats to pants to dresses.
scarlet__Guest_: Hi Joe! This is more of an industry question I think: Any advice for a recent college grad who wants to work at a magazine? The stereotype is that the only way is to be someone's intern first and hope to get promoted. But is this the only way? Any tips?
Joe_Zee: Hi Scarlet. I always advise anyone who wants to break into this business to intern. It's more than just the idea of being promoted but it's a chance to get real hands-on experience and to be in the loop of what fashion is all about. This business functions so much through word-of-mouth and getting the opportunity to intern is a great chance to meet important contacts for years to come. It's how I started.
laura__Guest_: Hi Joe...what is the one must-have look for women this fall?
Joe_Zee: We are back to lady elegance for fall. Simple sophistication is what I call it. You belt a nice turtleneck sweater - belted on the outside of course, with a pleated skirt and a simple heel. If you're daring enough, add a chic hat or a bold piece of jewellery. But otherwise, stick to the classics.
scarlet__Guest_: Do you have a favorite designer? Or is that like choosing a favorite child for you? Is there a certain look you gravitate toward?
Joe_Zee: Hi Scarlet. Choosing a favorite designer is like choosing a favorite child, only because I like different designers for different reasons. I have always loved the elegance and sexiness of Gucci and Versace and YSL but I also love the creative genius of designers like Marc Jacobs and Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga. And of course, the ever-elegant Alber Elbaz has always been a favorite of mine where he currently designes for Lanvin.
fashionista__Guest_: What's the hot jean for fall? Are trouser jeans a must-buy? Have skinny jeans gone away for good?
Joe_Zee: hi fashionista, right now the must-have jean is the high-waisted version. I think its the backlash we've having with the low-rise jeans that something that actually sits on the waist feels fresh. It's not the easiest shape to wear but looks great when it's on. Have skinny jeans gone away? I think if you look great in it, it will always be in fashion.
fedora__Guest_: What role do you think celebrities play in fashion?
Joe_Zee: hi fedora, right now we live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, so everyone you see on tv or at the movies or on the red-carpet will always have an effect on fashion. I think we like the idea of how these girls look, good or bad. But the important thing is, how you interpret that for yourself.
laura__Guest_: I know it's not good to be too matchy-matchy, but what about wearing black and brown together?
Joe_Zee: hi Laura, I LOVE black and brown together. And black and navy. For me, those are the chicest combinations. It's unexpected and that's awhile for your eye to adjust to it, but it has always look so elegant for me when done right.
chipperu2: Hi Joe: Thanks for chatting! What did you think about Marc Jacobs' show? I read the NYTimes story, and the writer really skewered audience member Victoria Beckham, contrasting the former Spice Girl's overtly sexual outfit with Jacobs' collection. I want to know more about the clothes!
Joe_Zee: Marc Jacobs is a total fashion genius. He always knows when to provoke, when to tease and when to pull back. One thing you will always get from a Marc Jacobs collection is discussion and his show this past monday was no exception. Inspired by what a woman wears underneather her clothes, Marc deconstructed everything to a point where you always had a peek-a-boo effect with these clothes. Definitely intriguing. I wouldn't contrast Victoria Beckham to these clothes because she's her own persona (and I LOVE her by the way!) and Marc is something else.
LA_Lady__Guest_: What is the must have jacket cut for the fall?
Joe_Zee: If you have to buy one jacket for fall, I would invest in the boxy square-cut jacket with 3/4 sleeves. A simple shape that looks great with a skirt or with jeans.
edfunhouse__Guest_: what designers are you most looking forward to see in europe? and which were the best collections you saw in ny ?
Joe_Zee: Proenza Schouler was probably one of the best collections here in New York. They did their take on urban safari and military and it was sexy and strong. In Europe, there's so many great things to see, but I am looking forward to seeing what Stefano Pilati does for YSL. He's really been able to do some incredible things there, since Tom Ford left.
Leslie123__Guest_: Hi Joe - wondering what you thought about high end designers getting into the mass market with collaborations at Target, H&M, and Kohl's?
Joe_Zee: Hi Leslie. I love the idea of designers crossing over into the mass market and designing items that will reach across the board. I've always believed that fashion should be universal and this way, so many more people will be able to have a chance to wear the designers they love. In our October issue of Elle, I even did a fashion story celebrating all the great clothes at retailers like Kmart, Target, Sears and Kohl's.
Joe_Zee: Also Leslie, you can go onto right now to see that story and see how to get the look.
bnj__Guest_: What do you think about wearing jewelry as a matched set with your earrings, bracelets and necklances all matching?
Joe_Zee: Great questions BNJ, first of all, I have always loved the idea of mixing and matching, especially when it seems like it doesn't go. But for fall, the trend seems to be leaning towards matching everything. Your shoes with your bag with your belt. Same with jewellery. But your best bet, would be to go with what works best for you and make it occasion specific.
Leslie123__Guest_: ELLE's celebrity covers are great, but if you could put any runway model (past or present) on the cover who would it be?
Joe_Zee: Hi Leslie, I love all our celebrities because they all have such interesting personalities. But if I had to pick models I love, I would have to say Kate Moss and Gisele. For me, they both define different aspects of the modelling world and their definition of beauty and style. Plus they are both incredible women.
scarlet__Guest_: From where do you pull inspiration? Is there a period of time you look to or do you see each project you work on as more of an evolving process?
Joe_Zee: That's a great question. I have to be honest and say my inspiration comes a mulitude of places. First of all, I tackle each project individually but my biggest inspiration comes from current pop culture. I am very inspired by movies, music, television, books, art exhibtions and whatever is "in the air" at the moment. But I do also refer many times to the past. Never to one specific time period, but general eras where fashion and style can be interesting.
fedora__Guest_: why do you think so many designers produced more polishes lines this season?
Joe_Zee: I think it was big reaction to seeing so many versions of grunge on the streets and on young hollywood that designers were really regressing back to a more classic, polished time. But like all trends, they will come and go and I'm sure the deconstructed grunge look will also be back.
scarlet__Guest_: What's your take on the Hollywood/celebrity-produced clothing lines? It's always been my personal opinion that fashion designers are like artists, each with a specific point of view, expressing themselves through a creative outlet. But with celebrities strike me as just wanting to make money. What's your take? Is there a happy medium here?
Joe_Zee: I don't think money is the primary reason these celebrities design clothing lines. Firstly, it's a long time before a clothing collection can even break even and even then, I'm sure their monetary gains will be minimal compared to what they take in with their music or their movies. I think we live in a world now that has become so multi-platformed in everything that we do, that many singers/actors, etc love fashion so much that designing is just another outlet for them. Can we compare them to someone like Marc Jacobs? Probably not, but I do think there is a big segment of the population out there that would like to emulate the celebrity look.
fedora__Guest_: what do you think we can expect next season?
Joe_Zee: hi fedora, I think for spring/summer we can definitely expect it to really lighten up. Besides the fact that it's spring (warmer temperatures!), but also after all the buttoned-up ladylike looks this fall, a looser, softer silhouette - even sexier - is definitely on the horizon.
Joe_Zee: THANK YOU everyone! It's been great chatting with you all and answering all your style questions. Please log onto ELLE.COM to see all the new collections and some of my favorites for the upcoming season. And there's great behind-the scenes videos too from the NEW YORK FASHION WEEK and also a quick glimpse into Reese Witherspoon, our October covergirl. And don't forget to pick up your copy of our October issue on newstands now. It's one you won't want to miss. Guaranteed!!
Joe_Zee: Bye all.
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