12.20.11

Brad Goreski: On Styling, His New Show & Leaving Rachel Zoe

Rachel Zoe’s former styling assistant is the star of a new reality show, It’s A Brad, Brad World. He talks to Isabel Wilkinson about starting over and his painful breakup with Zoe.

Brad Goreski is finally working. On a recent brisk afternoon located atop a luxury apartment building in Hollywood, he is jetlagged, straight off a flight from London, where he styled the Swedish actress Noomi Rapace on the red carpet for the British premiere of Sherlock Holmes.

Goreski, 34, is the former assistant of Rachel Zoe, the Hollywood stylist-turned megabrand who catapulted to fame with her reality show, The Rachel Zoe Project, on Bravo. In running errands, packing couture dresses, and parroting Rachel’s pithy one-liners, “Bananas!” “I D-I-E!,” Goreski became the show’s breakout star, and quickly developed his own loyal fan-base.

Now, after a messy split from Zoe, Goreski returns to Bravo on Jan. 2 with his own show, It’s A Brad, Brad World, which documents his attempt to begin a solo career as a Hollywood stylist.

As Zoe’s assistant, Goreski became known for his bright outfits (which he now labels with his own lingo, “Pop Of Color. P-O-C”) bold bowties, and angular eyeglasses. The New York Times called Gorseki the “Zelig of New York Fashion Week” last year. But his exposure in the press hasn’t necessarily translated to new clients. Now, it’s all about the hustle. “I think people will be surprised to see that when I left I didn’t have a ton of work,” he says.

The show opens with Goreski looking for jobs. His only client in this episode is the actress Jessica Alba, who doesn’t appear on the show. He styles Keri Hilson for the Costume Institute Gala, and oversees a few editorial shoots, but his days are slow, and we follow him as he plays with his dogs, Penelope and Jasper, relaxes at home with his boyfriend, changes the sheets, and makes frequent trips to Physique 57.

It’s a jarring departure from reality TV’s normal fare–filled with hair-pulling drama, unprovoked meltdowns, and screaming fights. “I’m not a table-flipper,” Goreski says, explaining that the drama on his show is “more suspenseful; more will-I or won’t-I, as opposed to “who’s going to end up in the pool.” Zoe’s show, by contrast, is fueled by manufactured plotting, as the stylist and her team are plagued by the threat of missing dresses, botched deliveries, and mercurial celebrity clients. (It always turns out fine.)

Since Goreski has flown the coop, Zoe has launched something of a smear campaign. In her show's fourth season, the first without Goreski, which ran during the fall, she frequently insulted him in front of the cameras, claiming that he had told her he was leaving her company to live a quiet life with his boyfriend–only to turn around and start his own business and get his own reality series.  

Goreski seems determined to try to take the high road, both on his show and during this interview. “I think it’s unfortunate that she decided to take the angle that she did because it’s not the truth,” he says carefully. “It’s unfortunate that all of the time that I spent with her, and the many lengthy conversations that we had discussing my departure from working with her, that she would choose to character assassinate me on television.”

He says that he gave Zoe two-and-a-half month’s notice before leaving the company, trained his replacement, and extended his time there in order to complete a job.  “I just think it’s unfortunate that she feels so competitive with me in a way,” he says. “Because I left to create a name for myself–and not to ride on any of her coattails.” He continues: “She’s so incredibly successful, that a stylist starting out–I don’t know what kind of threat that is to her. Maybe she thinks I’m incredibly talented. Who knows.”

Though they often run into each other during fashion week and at events, Goreski says Zoe always ignores him. “I did reach out to her numerous times, and there was never any response back,” he says.

On her show, Zoe alleged that Goreski attempted to steal her clients. “That’s not the truth,” he says now. “And she knows that’s not the truth. I didn’t even say goodbye to a lot of her clients because I didn’t want anything to be misconstrued as me soliciting anybody.” (Goreski has styled Zoe’s client, Demi Moore, but says he works with her “whenever she calls me.”)

The he-said-she-said doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop anytime soon. In reaction to Goreski’s comments for this story, Zoe and her husband, Rodger Berman, released the following statement through a representative: “Rachel and Rodger are amused by his convenient interpretation of events and have no additional comments.”

Though Goreski won’t comment on whether he was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement to appear on Rachel’s show, he seems bent on coming clean about his fight with his former boss. But when asked about what he learned from her as a reality star, he falls silent. “I don’t know if I’ve learned anything, to be honest,” he says. “I’ve basically learned from her that it’s possible to do both styling and the show at the same time, but I learned so many more things from her about styling, and working in fashion, and being kind to people.”

Goreski seems bent on coming clean about his fight with his former boss.

Looking ahead, Brad hopes they’ll be friends again. “Maybe one day we’ll be able to speak again, but if she chooses to not, then I guess that’s the way it has to be,” he says. “People are saying, ‘What’s the problem?’ There is no problem from my side. I don’t have any problems with her.”

But for now, Goreski is focused on his eight clients–who include Rashida Jones and Christina Ricci–and is gearing up for what he hopes will be a hectic awards season. He’s focused on Gary, his boyfriend of 10 years, who reluctantly agreed to appear on the show–and whose primary role seems to be comforting Brad whenever he is reduced to tears (which is a lot). And at the end of February, he’ll release a book, Born to Be Brad. “I think the thing I’m actually most proud of in three-and-a-half months of filming is that whatever I put out there was the honest truth,” Goreski says. “It’s what was happening; it’s what I was feeling at the time.  My boyfriend and I are in the kitchen making tea and doing stream of consciousness games with each other. Will people find this funny? Will people find this interesting?” He pauses. “Who knows.”