Zac Posen Chats It Up With Us — Talks Dancing, Tech, & More!

We’ve had quite an impressive roster of designers swing through recently. From the talented ladies of Vena Cava to Jason Wu — there's been no shortage of star-gazing moments. And, we can add another name to the list: Last week, the master of feminine silhouettes Zac Posen hosted an unforgettable show at The Fairmont. The designer was in town celebrating the 32nd annual S.F. Ballet Auxiliary Fashion Show with Saks Fifth Avenue and sent a bevy of his sculptural, feminine, floor-sweeping numbers down the runway. We were lucky enough to shoot the breeze with Posen in the Tonga Room prior to the festivities and boy, did we unearth some fun tidbits. So, read on for our chitchat with the sartorial whiz and take note!
Your muses range from Naomi Campbell to Coco Rocha; can you tell us which characteristics embody the Zac Posen woman?
"I think there’s a sense of ambition, being comfortable in your femininity, and your sexuality. I think that all the muses I’ve had have a level of eccentricity to them and have very good hearts. Usually, it’s people who want to be top in their class at what they do and have that motivation and drive. And, then have a very balanced, ethical, and humane side to them. They have the star quality."
Are there women you’d like to work with, but the opportunity hasn't risen yet?
"Of course, but I’m never going to put it out there because that jinxes it. I think how you evolve as a creative person is by keeping your eyes open. Whether it’s doing an interview and meeting a journalist that inspires me, and then being able to work with them on how they evolve, or, a young model that’s arriving to New York that just has that special magic. I remember when Natalia [Vodianova] came to New York for her first season — I just knew, and it was only my second show. It was her first season and I knew she had to open it, and Naomi Campbell to take look two. You know when it’s there. I thrive off those collaborations, but I’m interested in working with female politicians to female artists. As long as they respect the clothing, it’s a fruitful relationship."
You’ve worked with many different mediums — from gold to paper mâché — which one has been your favorite to work with?
"I started out as a little boy in my dad’s studio with a glue gun, so I have very insensitive fingertips — which is very helpful for pinning — from burning myself with a hot glue gun. I’m really interested in new mediums to work in and to start working in the new technology of 3-D printing. I love unusual, surprising materials. In this paper mâché project with Donna Karan, for the Haiti Project, it was a decoration of the heart and an ornament. I get inspired by everything from food to packaging to tape to garbage I see on the street!"
How do you feel about the intersection of fashion and technology?
"I think it’s incredible! It’s definitely more than silhouette and style, it’s actually a marker of the time we’re living in. But, hand and craft should be balanced within technology, because you’ll never be able to lose hand and craft with all the technological developments. The human body’s technology and mind are way more advanced and emotionally reactive than any machine can ever be."
Would you consider yourself a techie?
"I wouldn’t consider myself a techie, but I do love technology. I get stifled by it the same way one can get stifled when you’re just draping on a mannequin — you have to figure it out. For me, the nerd-alert radar would definitely go off, but I’m not a techie."
Switching gears, you’re here for the ballet, so we’re curious: What are your dancing skills like?
"When I was little, until I was about 18, I danced. I did African dance for about 12 years of my life, also tap and Irish dancing. As a jazz and tap kid, there’s some ballet there and interpretive dance. Since I was 21, when I entered the public eye, it’s been very hard to dance even though I love to dance. Every time I dance it seems to end up in the paper, so I do it at home in private. It’s a little sad."
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received over the course of your career?
"I have received different pieces of advice at different moments. I think the first thing that wasn’t given to me directly, but that was in lyrics, was Steven Sondheim's line, ‘Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.' Also, ‘Patience is a virtue.'"
Photo: Via Zac Posen

More from Designers


R29 Original Series