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'Kell on Earth': You are no Rachel Zoe, Kelly Cutrone -- and that's OK

NUP_137360_0337 Kelly Cutrone doesn't have the same knack for the grating catchphrase as Rachel Zoe. No "I die" or "shut it down" or "that is ba-na-nas," repeated ad infinitum. The closest that Cutrone has gotten to a trademark line is the tough-as-nails title of her new book, "If You Have to Cry, Go Outside" -- which, frankly, is pretty good advice that I wish my mother had passed on to me before I entered the work world and blubbered like a ninny.

It's a book title befitting a reality TV diva. But Cutrone is not necessarily a nasty piece of work: she is someone who runs her own high-profile fashion PR company, People's Revolution, and gets things done. As the debut episode of her new Bravo show, "Kell on Earth," made pains to point out, she's a single mom who keeps a loft right above her workplace so she can  spend spare moments with her 7-year-old daughter.  Cutrone -- a self-described "mama wolf" -- made her mark on "The Hills" and "The City" as mentor to blondettes Whitney and Lauren by being both cruel and kind, in appropriate doses. She let none of her staff get away with nonsense, yet she liked helping them find boyfriends and new jobs. (Because everything that happens on "The City" is real, right?)

Cutrone comes as something of a relief after two seasons of Zoe, who forged the territory of the Bravo fashionista reality series with "The Rachel Zoe Project." A successful celebrity stylist, Zoe's whole shtick was based on over-the-top glamour and childlike helplessness. All last season, she whined that her underlings wouldn't do her bidding while refusing to give them orders, expecting them to do the dirty work of managing themselves. She spent truckloads of money on vintage clothes and then tried to hide it from her wealthy, freakishly adoring husband. She obsessed over media reports that hinted she was too thin, trying on numerous outfits to hide her protruding bones. And eventually she was paralyzed by nausea that a doctor diagnosed as stress-induced vertigo. "Great," Zoe pouted, "now I’m being punished by my body!"

Zoe is so glamorous and frail that she looks like she might melt if exposed to unflattering florescent light. ("I die!") Which makes her show pretty darn entertaining. But unlike Zoe,  Cutrone is not a fashion icon. She's even a little shlubby -- in the best possible way, like someone who's too busy to bother. In the first episode, we see her hurriedly getting a pedicure in her office while she is finishing work before a runway show, and it isn't sexy or chic.

This is one of my favorite things about reality TV: the stuff that happens may not be real, but flawed characters like Cutrone would not have made it to prime time any other way.

Zoe and Cutrone aren't representative of real women in any way, of course -- they were given series expressly because their fashion careers have them living out young girls' dreams -- but it's still fascinating to glimpse them making their way through the work world with such different styles. Both shows are very much about creative workplaces and how women deal with the stresses involved.

Zoe vibrates anxiety -- that is her persona, and everyone within a 10-mile radius scurries to make her feel better. Cutrone portrays herself more as a tough business woman with gooey filling on the inside. In the first few episodes, everything that can go wrong while organizing a fashion show does: The seating list that her team has worked on for weeks gets obliterated by a computer glitch, causing mass chaos. You can see the panic in her face, but she pushes through it.

"Don't cry now," she quietly admonishes her selfless blond assistant, Stephanie S. (let's call her good Stephanie). "The more you do this, the more you pull the team backward." With bedraggled hair and a studded leather jacket, Cutrone calmly tries to placate the client, and the show goes on. But unlike Rachel Zoe's enchanted world, where disaster is always averted at the last breath-bated moment, Cutrone's universe is a more hardscrabble place -- as befits our recessionary times -- and her unhappy client fires her.

Admittedly, there are far fewer over-the-top moments here than in "The Rachel Zoe Project": You won't catch Cutrone caressing high heels or uttering lines about  carrying a  gown "in my womb for nine months and birthing it out the Golden Globes.” Cutrone is all about the work. Her next show, for a fledgling jeans and jeggings (jeans + leggings, of course) company, ends up being equally fraught -- mostly because Cutrone's other blond minion, Stephanie V.  (bad Stephanie) keeps screwing everything up. She fails to keep interns in check, gives them the wrong postage stamps for invitations and delegates the packing of editors' gift bags to them. When the clueless interns shove jeans into paper bags and address them to media mavens in scrawled Sharpie, Cutrone can hold her fury no longer. "There are eight people here to do a job that, frankly, my daughter who is 7 could do!"

And yet she seems to thrive on having bumbling but pretty young people around her. She makes her affection clear later in the episode when a young Irish intern's mom calls him at work, and Kelly grabs the phone. "I've been destroying him and rebuilding him," she says with a chuckle. And the mother thanks Cutrone, as she probably should.

Just to further prove that she's not soulless, Cutrone talks about her belief in "the concept of tribal wellness" and lights some incense in the office (as her hilariously deadpan assistant Andrew notes, "pretty much just making it difficult for me to breathe"). She also carries a pocketful of crystals - -expensive Swarovski crystals -- to bring good karma to her friends, like Vanity Fair writer George Wayne. But when she hands him a crystal, he pops it in his mouth, thinking it's a pill.

"It'll come out in the doo-doo," he says matter-of-factly. Which Cutrone really ought to consider for her next book title.

-- Joy Press


Kelly Cutrone's fashion battle plan

The war's over on 'The Rachel Zoe Project'

Photo: Kelly Cutrone with her colleague Stefanie Skinner Credit: Barbara Nitke / Bravo

Comments () | Archives (20)

this show is terrible. i hope no one is watching and it gets cancelled soon!

Is George Wayne in the habit of just popping whatever anyone puts in his palm that looks like a pill?

Naw!,I am not watching this program again.Bedraggled,no makeup woman,some who admit to not taking showers daily,ruled by an obviously bi-polar boss is not my idea of a time well spent.

You know what, BRAVO? Enough sycophantic, fashionista, navel gazing.
How about some quality programing? My suggestion for the Housewives et al and the other sundry narcissists and hangers-on that populate the BRAVO universe... Off with their egos! Let it go... Project Runway os gone...move on.

I LOVE Kelly Cutrone's honesty and balls!!! I would MUCH rather work for her than the WHATEVEAH Zoe girl.

People's Revolution is a joke. Very unprofessional crew. I acknowledge Kelly has her strong points but having one girl manage all seating charts during Fashion Week is unacceptable. Emily and Robyn behave like high school seniors working on their class yearbook. They provide no guidance to the interns and when things don't go as they want, they give vague orders along the line of, "OK, well I just need this to not be on my desk any more." They hire a bunch of kids because they can get them cheap and act surprised every time they screw up. Get a clue. Better yet, get someone who can provide some real direction not just a load of catty comments. I've watched these silly people for the last time.

I read the comments and I am surprised. I've worked in fashion and PR for 12 years and honestly, if you've been in the industry...you would be both amused and supportive. Kell on Earth is real and nitty gritty and I love it. I give her props for being herself, damn the makeup when you haven't slept and have more important tasks at hand. The interns are there because they wanna get into fashion, some will make it - most won't. I love when Kell said she should start charging $10k to intern...damn straight girl!! Stephanie V must get fired though...she is wrapping the whole office into a mess and the interns won't learn a thing with someone like that. Nontheless, I admire that it isn't a ridiculous Rachel Zoe drama fest that is annoying to watch...please just show us the freaking clothes!!! I don't care about Brad and Taylor. Show us styling Zoe...that's what we tuned in for. SO...bottom line - I will be tuning in for more Kell.

kelly cutrone is the real deal. not some fame seeking "stylist" who sits in front of a mirror all day coining phrases and still missing that they look like a raisin..

i could understand how it would not be interesting to you if you would rather see the finished product of fashion. but as someone who works in the fashion industry, sometimes the show is painfully real. i would actually venture to say that it's one of the most realistic reality shows i have seen (ugh what a sentence!). i'm not at all surprised that people are not pleased to be watching a barefaced kelly and a catty "crew." the production side of fashion is NOT glamorous. anything beautiful and worthwhile takes a lot of ugliness, trust me. just so you people know: people DO fight in the workplace. it's not fun. bosses like kelly have a lot of tough decisions and can't please everyone 100% of the time. any adult knows this. having a real job often means you have to put up with a lot of assholes.

i also find it hilarious that anyone would compare this to the real housewives. kelly is a real businesswoman who is self reliant and attempting to pave a way for women. by having a reality show she is getting amazing PR for herself and her clients. the housewives are just that..housewives. who claim to be a real estate agents AND do it all! they don't even have a brand to promote. bullshit.

haters keep on hating. i'm sure you will have fun watching "quality" faux news and the biggest loser.

I am so thoroughly impressed with Kelly after having watched her show. As a fellow owner of a boutique PR firm, it's both comforting and humorous to watch someone else endure the same trials and tribulations that I do. Furthermore, it is inspiring to see someone who has made it this big that is still involved in every aspect of her company. From seating charts to dressing models, no task is beneath Kelly and that is immensely admirable in this industry. Far too often I've seen PR company owners leave their work for their underlings once they reach a certain level of success and Kelly is the polar opposite. She lives and breaths her clients and I hope they realize how truly lucky they are to work with someone so dedicated.

KC is a nasty, mean-spirited person, who likes to throw her power around at lame NYC nightclubs. I hope her show goes to hell.

I LOVE this show -- it's entertaining and real. And the relationship that she and Ava share is wonderful! She's a great businesswoman and a great mom!

One of the problems is that this woman is not attractive on any level. She's physically, spiritually, and emotionally ugly. She has no sense of humor and her business is out of control. It's a bad show because it's a bad star.

I think this show is horrible too. I only watch it because nothing is on.. I can't even look at Kelly. She skeeves me. Like put yourself together? Hello? You're in the most high profile fashion business in the world. act like it yuck!

I think the difference in the two shows does wonders to show the difference between LA and NYC.. just like Orange County vs New York in the Housewives division of things. Rachel Zoe represented the overly tan raisin type that has one sense of what beauty is (rail thin and colorful) and whines and wants to be taken care of.. Kelly Cutrone has made her living doing the dirty work and doing it better than anyone else all while being up front and honest...so what she DEMANDS that people do their job and lets them know when they are not. That's not mean people..that's real life.

Nobody is here to hold your hand. Or pass you your huge sun glasses so you can just look important..

And Rachel Zoe is no where near easy on the eyes either..seriously.

This is one of the dumbest shows I have ever seen. No one seems to know what they're doing and everyone has a mental meltdown while they blame all the mistakes on someone else. You people are not saving the world...you're contributing to a glutenous and materialistic culture inhabitated by retards. Get a life and spend some of that energy doing something positive to change the world.

Kelly ROCKS! Period.

Kelly looks like a gothic jewish turtle. Rachel looks like a wisk broom. Either way, it's a sad representation of American fashion because they are opposite sides of the spectrum. It's Jack Sprat and his lesbian wife of the fashion world,

I, too, think this show is horrible. I have tried to watch it, but I find myself thinking 'who cares'. Sorry but Bravo needs to pull the plug on this fiasco of a show.

i must admit didnt like her management style on "Hills" or "City". She seemed really hard and moody. But I really changed my mind after catching her on her own show. Management style might not work in every industry - but when you have alot of young people fresh to the working world you must be Hard on them or they would walk all over you. At the end of the day - her key people LUV her.

Foxtel! what are you doing showing this stupid show on Australian Television. I give Kelly & Robyn maybe another couple of years and they will be shutting the doors and declaring bankruptcy. The way they treat their staff is shameful. Come on girls grow up and act like mature women. If you want to keep your staff start treating them with respect. Kelly like another poster has noted you dress like a bag woman and you are meant to be in the fashion industry. The show is absolute trash and I'm hoping foxtel cancels it as soon as.


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