After foolishly losing hold of megastar editor and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia, Elle has been scrambling to recreate its TV buzz with a reality fashion show called Stylista, in which contestants vie to become a fashion editor. The presumptive star of this effort, Anne Slowey, starts with several strikes against her. She did an unconvincing Miranda Priestly imitation in an embarrassing trailer for Stylista; looked like the loopy hippie to Garcia's polished fashion plate in a New York magazine profile and some Web videos; and came up through the ghettoized editorial side of Elle rather than the fashion side. Enter Sunday's Page Six Magazine profile of Elle creative director Joe Zee, "the celeb whisperer" who, face it, is poised to be Elle's real breakout TV star, Slowey be damned. There are any number of reasons, but you can start with the fact that Zee got Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley to pose naked together in Vanity Fair:
Although we've wondered whether Zee makes Elle too gay, he comes complete with long-running connections with J. Lo, Justin Timberlake and Sarah Jessica Parker plus a Horacio Alger, immigrant-makes-good biography. And he apparently also has a silver tongue. Here's what he told Page Six about the naked Vanity Fair shoot:
“Keira and Scarlett really were naked [in front of the cameras] for a while, but they got it. You have [photographer] Annie Leibovitz, you have Tom Ford—I think the girls realized that they were in trusted hands. It’s not Playboy. They knew it would be interesting and artful. Plus, Tom Ford [guest edited this issue and he] is incredibly visual and incredibly specific. He wants to direct movies now, and no doubt he’ll be phenomenal at it.”
Zee also bends other celebrity women to his will, through the magic of, uh, listening. Tricky and clever! Here's how it works:
“I identify with big personality women like Jennifer, Madonna, Mariah,” Joe says of the connection he has with stars. “I love their style, but I also love their careers, the decisions they make—all those things that make them who they are. Maybe it’s because I treat them as three-dimensional, successful women with real ideas, not as models.”
At the moment, though, J.Lo looks as comfortable in front of the camera as any career catwalker. It’s not the first time the pair has collaborated: Joe styled her for every W cover she’s shot over the years and for her album art for 2001’s J.Lo. Today, she rolls her caramel shoulders and tosses her hair before photographer Carter Smith as Joe stands nearby, directing her while chewing furiously on a piece of gum. “Gorgeous with your arm up like that,” he shouts. “Hot! Hot! She’s smokin’!”
You know what else Joe Zee is good at, besides fashion? Name dropping!