Designer Zac Posen’s Next Chapter
By: Mike Suber
At 20, he made a gown for Naomi Campbell. At 21, he was pegged as ‘the next big thing’, and at 23 his label was backed by Hollywood heavyweight Sean “Diddy” Combs. Zac Posen is now a red-carpet staple with a bevy of celebrity devotees, but with such auspicious beginnings, we want to know – what’s next?
Q: Zac Posen, thanks for speaking with ODDA. What are you doing today?
A: Today I have been in back-to-back fittings for my upcoming spring summer 2018 collection. I have an amazing team and really enjoy working on the technical fit of the design and fabric with them.
Q: Your mother was a corporate lawyer, your father an artist. How did this mishmash of creativity versus logic shape you as a business owner?
A: The juxtaposition of my parents’ professional lives allowed me to learn the creative process from my father, while my mom taught me how to be keen in business. When you work in fashion, one cannot successfully exist without the other.
Q: Of your Resort ‘18 collection, you said that “…there are moments and places when you can have a message in fashion, and there are moments when it’s just about making beautiful clothes that are going to make a woman feel great.” Do you feel the pressure, in such pointed political times, to translate a political or social ‘statement’ into your collections?
A: One has to feel free to express themselves. I am endlessly inspired by our environment and the general climate of society. When you run a brand, it is important to make sure you message is consistent, and to use your assets for what you believe in.
Q: You are coming up to your 5th season of Project Runway. Why is it important for you to work in a mentorship role for emerging designers? What’s the best advice you feel you’ve given on the show?
A: Nurturing new talent is one of the great joys of being a judge on Project Runway. It is extremely important to me to mentor new talent as they are the future of the industry. I believe my best advice has been to not be afraid of experimentation, making mistakes is the best way to learn and grow.
Q: You’ve worked in creative collaborations with Brooks Brothers, Delta Airlines, and have even released a range of affordable bridal wear. How important is it to you to maintain an influence in accessible markets, as opposed to your usual stomping ground of luxury design?
A: For me, now more than ever, finding a balance between art and commerce is of the utmost importance. One of the wonderful things about these collaborations is that they bring accessibility to a wider audience. I feel honored to be involved with these well regarded brands and feel that our partnerships are extremely important to maintain a presence in more markets.
Q: Your aesthetic is often described as ‘old Hollywood glamour’. Does that ever irritate you, in your quest to create collections that feel fresh and exciting? In your opinion, is it even possible to have original design when the industry seems to be stuck in a cycle of trends and references?
A: I strive to design pieces that are original but infused with iconic elements. There is nothing wrong with referencing past masters’ designs, this is how unique and original ideas come to be. For my line, embedding reference in modern design creates new vision, finding a balance of craftsmanship, tradition, and modernity with an active woman in mind.
Q: Inspiration and creativity for an artist exist in a constant state of flux, new discoveries layering long-standing loves. What is getting you out of bed these days, and what’s has always been an inspiration to your work?
A: My busy schedule keeps me energized and impassioned about life and my work. I truly find inspiration in everything, from architecture, to nature, to the beautiful, powerful women in my life. I find inspiration almost everywhere and therefore I feel constantly stimulated to continue designing.
Q: One of my closest friends here in Australia is an emerging designer, and I asked him – “Jason, what do you want to ask Zac Posen?” And here’s what he said: “Is there is a place in the world for a new generation of designers, when the average consumer seems to place less value on clothing that ever before?” Over to you, Zac.
A: There will always be a place in the world for new, original talent, that is one of the most invigorating characteristics of the fashion industry. The most important things an emerging designer can remember is to have faith, resilience, patience, and to not be afraid of failure, as failure can lead to success.
Q: If you could choose your own adventure, where would the next five years take you?
I am extremely interested in the digital world and the technological innovations currently taking place. Digital platforms are becoming an integral part of every brand and media outlet. I would love to further explore the connection between the digital and fashion world moving forward in the years to come.
Q: The theme for ODDA Issue #13 is ‘Major’. So I want to ask you, what was your toe-tingling moment that you realized you were a MAJOR player in the fashion industry? What did you feel at that time?
A: The moment I truly felt I had made it in the industry was either when Natalie Portman wore my Empire State dress, or when Gwyneth Paltrow wore my gown to the Oscars in 2007. That being said, I feel very fortunate to have had many “major” moments in my career, and I feel this kind of honor and pride any time I see my designs being worn by any woman.