Any true fashion addict will immediately recognize ELLE’s Creative Director and stylist extraordinaire Joe Zee, if not from fashion shows and industry events then from his appearances on style-savvy TV shows including Ugly Betty, Stylista and The City. What you may not know is that this high-powered member of the fashion elite is actually a Toronto native and proud UofT alum (where he studied psychology, sociology, philosophy, etc. before moving on to FIT).
If you’re dying to know how a fashion magazine is put together (and don’t mind a little drama along the way) catch Joe and his team on the new season of MTV’s The City, which airs on Wednesdays at 10pm. If, on the other hand you’re curious about the man behind the Creative Director, look no further. Despite a busy schedule that included New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and Milan Fashion Week, Joe managed to find time between shows and flights and appointments to tackle our infamous questionnaire and give fashion fans the complete A to Zee.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Having the weekend off and sitting on a beach somewhere. With no email messages!
What do you consider your worst trait?
I’m one of those workaholics who checks his Blackberry in the middle of dinner and movies.
If you could choose an occupation other than your own what would it be?
A dancer. I’ve always loved dance but didn’t have any training at all growing up. I picked it up casually a few years ago after working with artists like Justin, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Janet Jackson and seeing them move. Now I’m obsessed with mastering all styles of hip-hop! My fave is LA hip-hop — it’s more smooth and fluid and syncopated. I’ve even learned a b-boy trick or two!
What do you like and dislike most about being on The City?
I like showing what we do at the magazine on an ongoing basis. I dislike revealing the mystery behind how we put the magazine together.
Who is your style icon?
Kurt Cobain because he didn’t care one bit about what he wore or chasing trends but he had a huge impact on pop culture and an entire generation of people. When you talk about fashion in the 90s, grunge and Kurt are the first things that come to mind. He made wearing thrift store as important as wearing designer. My only regret is I never got to meet him.
What do you miss most about living in Toronto?
The clean streets.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
3 things you never leave home without?
My Amex, keys and, of course, my blackberry.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Having surpassed the goals I set for myself when I moved to NYC.
Fashion trend you wish would disappear?
Harem pants. Any pants with room for adult diapers just doesn’t seem right. What’s the point? If wearing an adult diaper does have to happen at some point, why encourage it now with an expensive trend?
What do you think is the next big thing in fashion?
Live streaming of fashion shows as they happen.
If you could style anyone in the world, who would it be?
Michelle Obama. She’s one of the most influential women in the world and her impact on fashion and style is just incredible. And the way she’s championed young American design talent has been amazing to see — to have a hand in that would be such a mark in history. Also Sarah Palin because I am DYING to get her out of those suits, put her in a dress—I mean, show a little cleavage! — give her a blowout and contact lenses.
How would you describe your personal style?
Latest beauty/grooming discovery?
I am not a big product guy but my dermotologist, Dr. Dennis Gross, has the most amazing skin care products. I love this 2-stepper product he has called the Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel — it’s an extension of a procedure he does in-office. And he has this Hydra-Pure Antioxidant Firming Serum—it’s like a mini-facelift in the mornings.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Describe your perfect Sunday?
Shutting myself in at home on a snowy day with food delivery and a DVR full of all my favourite TV shows.
What do you most value in your friends?
What’s your twitter policy?
You have exactly 140 characters to say something smart, funny, informative, insider, relevant, irreverent and new. It’s not easy. It’s the true test for an editor.
Follow Joe on Twitter: @mrjoezee
What will you do when you retire?
Honestly, I imagine I’d keep working! Otherwise, I’d spend it raising my kids-to-come.
Finish this sentence:
“People think I’m outgoing but I’m really shy at heart.”
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