Celebrity stylists have started to shine with so much star wattage over the last few years, they're scoring the same lucrative licensing...

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HOLLYWOOD — Celebrity stylists have started to shine with so much star wattage over the last few years, they’re scoring the same lucrative licensing deals, coffee-table books and TV guest spots as their red-carpet clientele.

But with fame comes the inevitable fall.

And so we have the Rachel Zoe-Nicole Richie split, covered in the tabs with all the mud-slinging, drink-flinging drama of a tabloid divorce.

When Zoe, Hollywood’s hottest stylist, got her mitts on the “Simple Life” star two years ago, Richie was a style nightmare, with bad hair extensions and drooping bra straps. But by the summer of 2005, Richie had turned into a sleek trendsetter thanks to Zoe’s brand of 1970s glamazon chic.

The Zoe look — long, blond tendrils, bangle-loaded arms and bottle-bronze tan — was so prominent that summer, it became difficult to tell her clients apart. Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton and Jessica Simpson were running around town like wafer-thin clones.

Then came the news that Richie had “fired” Zoe. They’ve been duking it out in the tabs, arguing more about their relationship with food than with each other.

First came the US Weekly item quoting a source “close to Richie” saying that after seeking help regarding her weight, the starlet “wanted to surround herself with positive people and influences.” Zoe didn’t make the cut.

Then Zoe’s response, released to TMZ.com: “After trying to be a good friend to Nicole, we made a mutual decision to sever our working relationship.”

Richie posted a nasty item on her MySpace blog, which was picked up on the Internet and in every $1.99 rag in town. The post, which has since been taken down, seemed to point to Zoe: “Blind Item: What 35-year-old raisin face whispers her order of 3 peices [sic] of asparagus for dinner at Chateau [Marmont] every night, and hides her deathly disorder by pointing the finger at me, and used her last paycheck I wrote her to pay for a publisist [sic] instead of a nutritionist? HINT: Her nickname is lettucecup.”

Oh, the drama.

“People stop working together all the time,” Zoe said by phone Thursday. “It should be a personal thing, not tabloid news.

“I’m very healthy. I plan to have children. I would never tell someone to lose weight, not even my sister.” As for the back-and-forth, Zoe, 35, said, “I’ve lived my teenage years once and I don’t need to do it again.” (She was adamant about publishing her birth date — Sept. 1, 1971 — hoping to clear up long-standing rumors that she is lying about her age.) “I feel like I ought to get my birth certificate out,” she said. “This is what it’s come to.”

So it may be the end of the blond clones — or the beginning of the brunettes. Zoe has been working with the very non-blond Cameron Diaz, Demi Moore, Jennifer Garner and Salma Hayek. And Richie has gone brunette too.