Creative Director of Elle magazine, Joe Zee, has one of those bubbly, winning personalities that makes an interview and photo shoot a walk in the park. He also has a digital know-how that’s become a big part of his glowing reputation, and is no doubt playing a huge role in bringing fashion into the digital age. Even more importantly though…he’s a foodie! Zee’s got savviness when it comes to recipes and cooking, and he approaches restaurants in the same high-low way he does fashion. In other words, some of his nights are meant for Wallsé, and some for five dollar ramen. It’s this creativity – one that translates across industries – that makes Zee a favorite fashion icon of ours. Hear all about his musings on fashion and food, and peruse his favorite items for fall…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
On an ideal food day, I would not be worried about, “Oh I have to be healthy.” I’m someone who loves everything. I would get up and have an awesome breakfast that would probably be eggs and sausage; I love traditional breakfast. I almost never have breakfast on a regular basis because I’m always on the go. Coffee is my drug. I’d probably like a light lunch. I love a grilled vegetable salad or something like that. And then I just love, love dinner. Dinner is my thing. I know people are always like, “Oh you should have a bigger breakfast and a bigger lunch,” but I love a dinner. For me, it’s also social and fun to have a glass of wine, sit, and have an awesome meal. I’d have either a great burger or fried chicken, which is also my thing. I can’t eat it all the time, but I love it. That would be my last meal, my fried chicken. If I could just go to a really cool, casual place and just have great food with good company, that would be my ideal food day.
How would you define “good content?”
I think good content is anything that engages, because there is so much content everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading it in a magazine, watching it on television, or going through websites. If you can get me to stay on your channel, to pick up your magazine, or to stay on your website, that means that content has managed to engage. I think that’s what good content is: It’s managed to capture me, and hold me for my very ADD attention span. And it’s not just me; it’s everyone. I think it can do that through being provocative, slightly unpredictable, and by being breaking news of some sort. There are also always unexpected ways. I love strong voices and strong opinions. I think those are the things that captivate. I’ll go to a TV show because I really like that personality; I’ll read a specific story because I think that writer is great. That’s what great content is: The great people behind the content and the way that they think. Great minds can create something that captures and engages an audience.
Do you think people have shorter attention spans on the web?
Absolutely! I think the web is completely, one hundred percent responsible for making us all have even more ADD, which is fine because I already had it to begin with! We’re all trained now to digest things in sound bites. We all live our life and our experiences like, if it’s not on Instagram it didn’t happen; if it can’t be condensed to 140 characters, too much is going on. Everything is about little bits and pieces, and some people criticize social media, but that’s really our scrapbook. When we look back years from now, Instagram will be our photo album and Twitter will be our journal. These are the scrapbooks of our lives and I think it’s an interesting thing because there’s so much of it all the time. I am on Twitter all the time, and even my boyfriend is like “Why are you always looking at Twitter?” But I follow every breaking news feed; I follow authors; I follow brands I like, outlets I like, and certainly friends as well. I have gotten every major news headline in the last couple of years through Twitter, from the tsunami in Japan, to Whitney Houston passing away, to the Asiana flight crash. I’m fascinated by breaking news from Twitter. I’m not at a television set or on the radio, but on my phone I can get breaking news in a very condensed way.