Move Over, Tim Gunn

CW's fashion reality series Stylista is the perfect replacement for those obsessed with Project RunwayElle magazine's creative director, Joe Zee -- who acts as mentor as contestants fight and claw their way toward an internship at the magazine -- takes us behind the scenes



Joe Zee x100 (publicity) | 

Are these really the kind of tasks
Elle interns would have?
No, it’s way more intense. I have to say
there were times Anne and I were saying, "Wow. I
don’t think even an assistant or a junior editor
would have to do this much." So I think it’s actually
a really good training ground for them. 

This show is really all about what happens when you
aren’t there. When these girls and guys
are fighting it out and having panic attacks
and it’s very dramatic, did you know what was
going on in their personal lives?
No, absolutely not. We came in there and we
judged their work. At least I did. I mean, Anne had a
little more to do, but I just judged their work. I
mean, any of the outside part, I had no idea. Occasionally
they would bring it up in the conference room, which
was edited for content. You know, they would accuse
someone of something, like "You didn’t get your
work done at night" or whatever. Those little parts, if they
would actually bring them up, then I would be aware of
[those things]. Other than that, no, we had no idea
what was going on back home. So when I watched the
rough episode for the first time I was like, "Oh, my
God." Fashion folks are very alpha personalities, and you
put them all in one place, something is going to

There are obviously gay contestants on the show,
and they’re young, and it might actually help gay
kids see that it’s OK to go and want to do this.
In this industry, that doesn’t play into
it. It’s just about embracing yourself on all
levels. You saw the first episode...yeah, there’s a
gay kid, but there’s also a heavier girl.
It’s just about embracing yourself. That any
level of confidence can take you there. And this is an
industry where that is all celebrated on all

Well, and all those kids thought that poor heavier
girl was going to get knocked out, and she keeps getting
complimented because she’s got good style.
And she’s confident and she really tries.
That says a lot about someone.  

There is this moment where they line up all the
interns, and you basically critique their outfits. Is
this what you would do normally?
I guarantee you I do not line up the staff in
front of my office. I think it was a way to illustrate
what it's about. First off, what you look [like] says
a lot about you. And not that how you dress is a good
reflection of whether you do a good job or not, but
-- I sound superficial [with this] being said out
loud -- but this is your industry. You have to
have some sense of understanding what fashion is in
this industry. How you look and appear and present yourself
is going to be the biggest calling card of that.
It’s not the superficial level of "Oh, do you
get it, are you wearing the right shoes?" But
[instead] "Do you understand fashion?" I wouldn’t
hire an accountant and go out to dinner with him and
have him not know how to split the check.

premieres tonight on the CW at 9/8 Central.

Tags: television