Talking with Joe Zee and Radenroro at Nordstrom

Talking with fashion powerhouse Joe Zee and Radenroro at Nordstrom

Joe Zee

Elle magazine creative director and stylist Joe Zee first hit my radar in 2008 in “Stylista,” a fashion reality show competition that took place at Elle. He seemed like such a nice, calming influence on what was billed as a “Devil Wears Prada”-inspired show.

Zee is now the host of a recently debuted fashion reality show on the Sundance Channel called “All on the Line,” where he helps established, but struggling, designers “save their lines from ruin,” according to the show’s website.

I caught up with Zee at Nordstrom on April 21, where he was celebrating the debut of one of his designer’s lines in the Savvy department. And I’m happy to say he’s just as nice in person.

Here’s the back-story:

In the premier episode of “All on the Line,” which aired in early April, Liquica Anggraini and her husband, Andrei Zimiles, of the NYC-based line Radenroro meet with Zee as they teeter on closing after seven seasons.

Although Radenroro (which means “little princess” in Indonesian) was in a few great stores, it had yet to hit the racks of a major department store, which is what it needs to survive.

Zee’s immediate response is to urge Anggraini to play up the special touches in the designs (like ruffles and custom prints) and to become the voice of the Radenroro woman, which she does perfectly, because all of the clothes look amazing on her.

Zee sets the couple up with a visit with Loretta Soffe, Nordstrom EVP for Women’s Apparel, who loves the line and snaps it up for Savvy.

Fast-forward to April 21. Zee, Radenroro and Soffe -- and fans of the show, Zee, the line and Nordstrom -- gathered to welcome Radenroro to Seattle.

I sat with Zee for a bit. Here’s what he had to say:

“I think what’s great about ‘All on the Line’ is that it’s so real, so authentic, so genuine,” says Zee. “It shows a whole other side of fashion that isn’t all about the red carpet: the tears, the hard work.”

“While each designer has their own distinct issues, the thread through each episode is the difficulty they have in bridging art and commerce,” Zee explains. “There’s a fine line between keeping the creativity and gaining commercial success.”

Radenroro is a perfect example of how beautifully that line can be straddled.

“We want to provide women with clothing that isn’t just your typical on-trend item that you wear once,” says Zimiles.

“I always try to add some couture detail in the piece,” adds Anggraini, who finds inspiration in everything from teddy bears to diamonds. Don’t hate -- her abstract teddy-bear-print Ismi Silk Blouse is off the hook.

When I asked about the benefits they gained from the show, besides the connection with Nordstrom, both Anggraini and Zimiles agreed it was the validation from a powerhouse like Zee.

“It’s easy to doubt yourself in this industry,” admits Anggraini, “especially when people are telling you your designs aren’t saleable.”

But there’s no doubt that Radenroro is fresh, youthful, beautifully designed and versatile enough for work, play and special occasions. The price point (between $279 for a camisole and $438 for a silk jumpsuit) means that a Radenroro piece is a signature item in a woman’s closet, around which she will build her wardrobe. And that’s a great way to dress.