By Jessica Estrada | October 8, 2015 | People
Fashion maven Joe Zee spills on his new book, how he feels after eating Taco Bell, and the pranks he wants to play on his FABLife cohosts (watch out, Tyra Banks and Chrissy Teigen!).
When it comes to fashion, editor-stylist-designer-multi-hyphenate Joe Zee knows his stuff. The Yahoo! Style editor in chief has a decades-long career that includes stints at top magazines like Elle, W, and Vanity Fair. Most recently, Zee hit a new career milestone as the cohost of new daytime talk show FABLife alongside supermodel Tyra Banks, social media maven/foodie Chrissy Teigen, interior designer Lauren Makk, and DIY YouTube star Leah Ashley.
Next week, Zee adds yet another accolade to his resume with the debut of his new book, That’s What Fashion Is: Lessons and Stories from My Nonstop, Mostly Glamorous Life in Style (out October 13), in which he shares his inspiring journey of a “starry-eyed kid” with a dream who rose through the illustrious ranks of fashion and spills all the crazy behind-the-scenes stories he experienced along the way. Here, Zee shares more details on his book, FABLife, and why he can’t wait for April Fool’s Day to roll around.
Congrats on your new book! Tell us a little about it.
JOE ZEE: When you work in fashion, there are so many funny, amazing, inspiring, cool, and different things that happen all the time behind the scenes that people don’t really know about. I love all the different things I’ve done in my career so much that I was really inspired to tell those stories. Whether it was about Halloween or behind the scenes of a cover shoot or dressing someone for the red carpet or filming a reality show, all of those things are covered in different chapters. I just thought it would be fun because no one really tells it from that perspective. The book is about pulling the curtain back on fashion and showing all the aspects of fashion, some glamorous, some not—not in a patronizing way but in a more fun, quirky, cheeky, inspiring way.
Joe Zee's new book, That’s What Fashion Is: Lessons and Stories from My Nonstop, Mostly Glamorous Life in Style.
What was it like taking that trip down memory lane?
JZ: I think I spent an entire day at the Conde Nast library because I basically grew up working at all of those magazines. My first job was at Allure as an assistant in 1992. Then I went to W magazine in ‘95 and I was there for 10 years. [Then] I was the editor in chief of Vitals at Fairchild and then I went to Vanity Fair, House & Garden, Details, and finally Elle in 2007. All I did was look at the pictures because the pictures immediately jolted every story back into my brain. So that part wasn’t hard, that part was actually fun. I moved to New York City in 1990 from Toronto. I was this starry-eyed kid who just wanted to be a magazine editor and work in the world of fashion and I never, ever thought that my reality would be as big as all of those pages. I never knew to what degree it was going to take me and it’s so surreal for me to be able to look at all of that and say, “Wow I was part of a fashion movement.”
And what do you hope readers take away from the book?
JZ: I hope people that read this say anything is possible [and to not] give up on your dreams. That is a universal theme. You don’t even have to love fashion; you just have to love pursing your dreams. I hope it gives people sort of a real perspective on what the fashion industry is about, because I think so many people perceive the fashion industry to be Devil Wears Prada or September Issue or Ugly Betty, and sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. For me, I think the industry is incredibly fun and exciting and different, but I think it’s also not as glamorous of what the perception of fashion is. Just to see the inside of fashion, and be able to understand it in a new, fun, and different way, and at the same time be able to show that you can do all of the different things you want to do and make a career out of it.
The cast of FABLife.
You’re cohosting FABLife now, too. What sets it apart from other talk shows?
JZ: We have such an innate love of each other and I think you see that. We’re different and we’re complementary to each other and we have so much fun. We’re also experts and passionate and driven in our fields. We can sit there every day and talk about ourselves, but at the same time dole out expert advice to everyone out there about the world that we have learned from and done for so long. We become like their best friends in their living rooms everyday. You don’t get that on other shows, you just get personalities. Here you get the personalities and the expertise.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened on set so far?
JZ: Everything every day. We’re so silly. I kind of want to play pranks on the girls, but we’ve been so busy lately. I love being a prankster, so I’m always like, ‘What is my prank going to be when April Fool’s Day comes around?’ So I’ve got a few more months to plan [Laughs]. We all ate too much Taco Bell [the other day] courtesy of Chrissy and then we all stayed up all night because that’s what you get from eating way too much Taco Bell midday.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HEO ZENG (HEADSHOT)