IT’S FASHION WEEK, LADIES. Shows and models and Naomi Campbell, OH MY. Last night on the Rachel Zoe Project, not only were there near-tragedies of the fashion variety, but there were actual tragedies as well, which seemed like slightly unfamiliar territory for the Zoe folks.

In the fashion department, Rachel got a last-minute job styling a huge charity fashion show and New York Fashion Week almost got snowed out, but then a devastating earthquake shook Haiti and Alexander McQueen took his own life and we all got a reminder that fashion is, after all, just fashion. Even when Rachel Zoe is involved. But as the old cliché goes, the show must go on. In this case, the show was Naomi Campbell’s pet project, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of an unhappy Blackberry smack from her. Blackberries are way heavier and more painful than iPhones.

As the show opened, Rachel was readying herself to go to New York and Milan for their respective fashion weeks to scout Oscar dresses and celebrate general fabulousness. As you can imagine, Rachel Zoe is not an efficient packer. She referred to her bags as people (and they’re Chanel bags, so they cost about as much as people) and tried to arrange her suitcases by “feeling.” One of her main feelings was Chanel, of course. Because so many events were going on in LA, Brad couldn’t accompany Rachel to New York, but don’t worry. They’ll rendezvous in Italy, naturally.

Upon landing in NYC, Rachel went straight to see Gwen Stefani, who was decked out in black leather and red lipstick and fabulousness. I’ve loved Gwen since I was approximately eight, so I’m going to need a moment here to sing the lyrics to “Sunday Morning” in my head.

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Ok, I’m back. Gwen Stefani is also the proprietor of one of fashion’s most legit celebrity lines, as I’m sure you all know, and L.A.M.B. would be showing at Fashion Week. Rachel got a good look at Gwen’s line for fall, and most of the stuff was sick, particularly consider the price point. That amazing black-and-white wool coat? Gimme. Nevermind that it doesn’t really get cold here – I want it anyway.

When Rachel was in the car with The Rodge after seeing Gwen’s line, Naomi Campbell gave her a ring to style the charity Fashion For Relief show that would open Fashion Week. Since she only had like three days to throw the thing together, her schedule? It had to be cleared. Brad? He had to be rushed in from LA. Forget the clients in Los Angeles, this is FASHION WEEK, y’all.

So basically, there were no models or looks or anything for the show, but when Naomi Campbell tells you to do something and do it quick, I guess you make it happen to avoid a Blackberry to the head. On top of all of the challenges, if you think back to February in New York, the weather was disgusting. No one could get anywhere, models weren’t showing up for fittings, fashion as we know it was brought to its knees. But not Rachel! Rachel still managed to wear a white Chewbacca pelt and stiletto platform boots to her morning meeting. That’s why we love her.

When she got to the meeting to plan the Haiti charity show, there were approximately a dozen dresses for the women to wear and, like, half of a pair of pants for the menfolk. Send the models naked! Particularly the male ones. Clothe the female ones. As Rachel and Brad called around to all their contacts, it became clear that the clothes were not exactly going to be flowing in. Many international designers had already promised looks to the London iteration of this show, so they weren’t exactly being generous.

The upside was that several designers and stylists would be attending in their own clothes, but still…naked models. We’ve got ‘em. Naomi’s team showed up to check progress and everyone got mad at Brad for not freaking out hard enough. I found it a little hard to focus on the planning of the show when I kept waiting for someone to mention the enormous elephant in the room – Alexander McQueen’s death. The Fashion for Relief show ended up being a bit of an impromptu memorial to him, and we got nearly 40 minutes into the episode before it was mentioned. I know that they were probably trying to stick to a particular timeline, but it was distracting when you knew what was coming.

Anyway, back to the approved storyline. Rachel blamed Brad for the lack of clothes and eventually made him stand outside of the fittings to punish him, even though it seemed like Brad was doing everything he could think of to make sure everything was pulled that could be pulled. In LA, Jordan and New Girl Ashley were pulling from a wide array of looks to send dresses to the London premiere of Valentine’s Day, and when you factor in the lack of snow and lack of impending Naomi Campbell head injuries, their jobs were seeming way better than Brad’s.

Speaking of Naomi, back in New York she had shown up to get an update, and she was not pleased by the lack of shoes. She got on the phone directly to Christian Louboutin (not the company, the actual guy) right then and there to make some more footwear appear, and thankfully no one sustained any Blackberry-shaped contusions by the time she left. On a slightly different note, Naomi is 800 times prettier in motion than she is in a photograph, even when she’s enraged. That woman is a work of art, as is her weave.

And then, finally, McQueen’s death was acknowledged. Everyone seemed kind of shell-shocked and upset, and since Naomi was a close friend of McQueen’s, she’s the one that made the call that several of his runway looks would close the show before being sent back to the company to be archived. Speaking of tragedies, Rachel also had hired a Haitian model who, unbeknownst to them, had actually been in Haiti during the earthquake and had gotten out by flying to Paris.

Meeting someone so intimately affected by the earthquake renewed the team’s resolve to make the show perfect, so Brad got back on the phones to demand that more looks be donated. Rachel also called back to Los Angeles to have some shoes sent to New York from her showroom so that the models might have something to walk in. Still, hearing about the Haiti earthquake first-hand put the scale of this fashion “tragedy” back in perspective for all of us at home.

The next morning, Rachel ran out the door in a blaze of leather and fur and high heels in order to put the finishing touches on the lineup and get the show on the road. But, oops, there aren’t any models. Backstage at a fashion show when everyone is getting paid is chaotic enough, but when it’s charity? Even worse. No one was on time, some of the models didn’t have looks at all, people were milling about.

None of that was obvious on the surface, though, just as it isn’t at any good fashion show. All of the supermodels and celebrities looked beautiful (except for Chris Brown – who let Chris Brown in?), naturally, but the most poignant part of the show was easily the eight Alexander McQueen looks at the end, some of them on tearful models (and one privately owned and custom-made look on fashion goddess and couture customer Daphne Guinness).

The show managed to handle McQueen’s death respectfully and without exploiting it for maximum dramatic impact, which is probably more tasteful than anyone ever expected Bravo to be. I remember reading a lot about this show in February, so it was genuinely quite interesting to see how things went down behind the scenes with our ragtag group of fashionistas.

  • Kiwishopper

    I really like last night’s episode!!

  • PhotoGirl

    The last photo makes me weep. :( Such an enormous loss.

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      God, I know. Me too. I had a similar photo as my desktop background for quite a while. McQueen is a reminder of what fashion can be, on its best day, and I got a little misty-eyed watching the models in his clothes last night. He was my favorite.

  • Amy

    I would have enjoyed this episode had i watched it. Love the recap!

  • mochababe73

    Her Chanel bag was so amazing. I paused it just so I could gawk at the bag.

    I am completely clueless as to why RACHEL didn’t call for garments for the fashion show. I guess I missed that part because I didn’t see it. I guess that I will need to rewatch it.

    I am so glad that they did not mention Taylor in this episode. I am Team Taylor all of the way, but I was really sick of hearing Rachel and company whine about her.

    I loved this episode because I love fashion week, and I have wanted to go for years. It is my goal to go to at least one show next September. I don’t care if I have to stand in the back of the room.

  • Bagolicious

    Loved Rachel’s Chanel outfits and that first Chanel handbag with the chains on the front, I think it was. I don’t remember if I have this episode on DVR, so that I can play it back to check out the outfits and handbags. This episode I liked as it was true “fashion”.

    • mochababe73

      You are so right. I love when the show is about fashion. That’s the main reason why I watch it.

  • erica

    Is it just me or does this season’s RZ Project have a more emotional tug? Maybe with the recession wants a more personal slant? I like it …but now back to fashion…

    My favorite fashion moments were:

    1. Rachel’s “blizzard” outfit
    2. Gwen’s leather bloomers
    3. The McQueen dresses at the end of the show

    When McQueen died I looked up his fashion shows on youtube and they were…I don’t even have a word. Just remarkable, an amazing talent that will be missed.

  • Bagolicious

    Yes, Rachel’s “blizzard” outfit. It looked as if she were in Siberia. And when she got out of the car in those spiked heels and stepped into the snowy, slippery street….priceless! You go girl!

  • V

    hm…what a story…

  • ophienne

    Good recap of the show. The wording in this sentence is odd though:

    Rachel got a last-minute job styling a huge charity fashion show and New York Fashion Week almost got snowed out, but then a devastating earthquake shook Haiti and Alexander McQueen took his own life and we all got a reminder that fashion is, after all, just fashion.

    The charity fashion show was to benefit the earthquake; the earthquake did not happen “then”.

    Anyhow. I think I now have a crush on Gwen Stefani. Something about her look and demeanor in that outfit made it hard to turn away!

  • Kate B.

    Which McQueen dress is Daphne Guiness’s couture outfit?

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      It was custom-made specifically for her, it was never a part of a collection. She’s the one on the far left with her face covered.

  • Claire

    I kind of think the short time line may have been invented drama. How could they not have clothes or a stylist until the 11th hour? And Rachel continues to have the most pi$$ poor management skillz ever.