Amid the very public panning of Hedi Slimane's debut collection for Saint Laurent in October, one particular comment stuck out.
Faced with a sea of girls in 70s-style floppy hats, kaftan shapes, floaty chiffon and peasant blouses, Cameron Silver, founder of vintage store Decades, noted: "Every girl in LA already dresses like that."
One particular girl certainly does. Rachel Zoe, the celebrity stylist who became something of a celebrity herself in the early 2000s, is enjoying a second coming. The woman the Observer once dubbed "queen of skinny chic" is back, and her signature look – jet-set, rich, 70s and glossy – was a big theme at the spring/summer 2013 collections. Saint Laurent, Gucci, Versace and Mulberry all advocated pantsuits, floaty chiffon gowns, big sunglasses, big blow-outs, and even bigger bags. Celebrities also love this look. In fact, Zoe's influence is everywhere, once you start looking for it.
With the peak of the Zoe-craze around 2006, a glut of young Hollywood stars – Nicole Richie, Mischa Barton, Lindsay Lohan included – were her "girls". Her influence was such that the identikit look of flowing vintage maxidresses and a svelte frame gained its own moniker: the Zoebot. While it faded with rumours that her look was tied to a super-skinny physique (and a falling-out with Richie), a somewhat unlikely sequel is playing out.
Originally from New York, Zoe moved to LA in 2002 and was one of the first stylists to put the vintage "look" on the red carpet. She appealed to the fashion crowd with an image that skimmed rather than clung to bodies. The 70s is her signature decade, with Halston, Pucci and, of course, Yves Saint Laurent in his pomp central to a louche aesthetic. Decadent socialites have traditionally been her muses.
Despite her look reaching saturation point in the mid-2000s, Zoe never really went away. A successful reality-TV show has existed since 2008; whispered catchphrases including "I die" and "major" are now part of the current fashion lexicon thanks to her. And now, her signature look is suddenly relevant again. "There was so much hype over boho and we'd seen it so much that people moved away," says Justin O'Shea, of mytheresa.com, who stock her collection. "But fashion is cyclical and that look is back in." Pamela Church Gibson, a professor at the London College of Fashion and author of Fashion and Celebrity Culture, believes the boho thing is here to stay: "The look isn't really going away – those layers, that very particular kind of hair. People know the Rachel Zoe look," she says. "In a bizarre way, it's a bit of a classic."
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