This weekend I had the chance to chat with the world renowned fashion designer & Project Runway judge Zac Posen in preparation for his appearance at the annual F.G.I. Dallas Night Of Stars Gala. Zac dished all about his love for Dallas, receiving the Lifetime Of Achievement In Fashion Award and even managed to give some amazing advice for young designers. I asked local art school students and alum from Wade College to submit questions that they may have for the designer and I received a ton of interesting topics. Zac is known to cater to young designers and loves to give back to the fashion community, so I knew I would love to share this opportunity with others who are looking to follow in Zac’s footsteps. Wade College offers fashion design, merchandise marketing, interior design, and graphic design Associate and Bachelor programs to students in the D.F.W area. Wade College founder Sue Wade received the Honoree of Lifetime Achievement Award in Fashion Education at the F.G.I. Dallas Night Of Stars Gala in 2012.
Ken Downing, Neiman Marcus Fashion Director, will present internationally celebrated fashion designer Zac Posen with the Career Achievement in Fashion award on behalf of FGI Dallas. “With this year being FGI Dallas’ 65th anniversary, we are thrilled to honor Zac Posen with this prestigious honor and also mark this special milestone in our history,” said Chuck Steelman, Regional Director of FGI Dallas.
It was Halloween morning around 9:20 A.M. when Zac’s assistant came on the line to tell me they were ready to start our interview, Zac hasn’t been feeling well this week so he was running a bit behind and despite having a full day ahead working on his Pre-Fall 2015 collection he still made time to speak with me. It was a great feeling to hear his voice on the other end of the phone as we greeted each other and had a few laughs. Born in New York City, Posen burst onto the New York fashion scene in 2001. Celebrities and fashionistas alike were buzzing with anticipation of his designs even before his first fashion show and this year Zac celebrated ten years on the runway. Today he is one of the world’s most coveted designers with A-List celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Lena Dunham, and Reese Witherspoon strutting his one-of -a-kind designs on the worlds most prestigious red carpets. 2014 has been an exciting year for Posen with the launch of his first bridal collection, Truly Zac Posen, sold exclusively at David’s Bridal; his new position as creative director for Brooks Brothers women’s wear and accessories; and most recently, the launch of his new men’s and women’s eyewear collection. Without further ado…
CC: This year you celebrated 10 years on the runway. What was that like to hit such a huge milestone?
ZP: For me its a huge accomplishment… but its just the beginning. I think that I’m a designer, creator, and business person on the other side. That’s what you have to be as a designer. Im continuously pushing for a level of perfection & as you get closer to something you raise the bar. Fashion can be a very difficult business so to have over 10 years in the fashion industry is quite a milestone.
CC: How does it feel to be honored by F.G.I. Dallas with the Career In Fashion Achievement award in fashion?
ZP: Oh its huge. Dallas was really my introduction into the world of Neiman Marcus & how fashion and luxury were conveyed and sold, in Dallas and all cross America. I remember I first came to Dallas when I was 21 years old at Neimans and that sort of set the bar and trained me on how to do trunk shows. It was an incredible learning and growth experience. I’ve always considered Dallas one of my fashion homes away from home. I have lots of customers and fans there so it’s a huge honor!
CC: Is there anything you’re looking forward to doing during your visit?
ZP: I always try to catch up on whatever cultural thing is happening there at the time. With the team that’s coming with me from my company I’m sure i’ll take them to Forth Worth. I’ll take them to M.L. Leddy’s……..Do you know what M.L. Leddy’s is?
CC: Actually, I DON’T!
ZP: It’s a luxury western store. It’s a cool store in Fort Worth. I’ve got to teach them what a Lucchese boot is! It’s fun because I really embrace Texas cultural, which I think is really its own entity in the United States. So I try to be a role model in my company to always be interested in culture and to explore. The key is to learn your market. Dallas is a market that I know pretty well and one that I have loved over the years, so it’s really exciting to bring all my folks there now! I’m sure there will be some great vintage shopping , GREAT FOOD! I’m gonna teach them what chicken fried steak is! I don’t think they know what chicken fried steak is! I don’t think I’ve surprised them yet with a breakfast full of biscuits and gravy.
CC: You’re known for your nurturing qualities on Project Runway, how do you find the balance between staying true to that and giving constructive criticism? What do you think is the most important?
ZP: Well, I think the most important thing that I have learned from great mentors and teachers over the years is that honesty is key. That is primary the most important thing. I always think that you judge somebody in comparison to themselves. On Project Runway once the contestants have narrowed down then it becomes a question of where do you take all of the components including the full package, the personality, the character, and what the design world is needing. On the show I have to have fun with it because it is entertainment. It’s a balance between nutriment and entertainment. That’s really how I see it, and I care; I truly deeply care. It’s a big time commitment shooting the show, but I really wanted to help project the fashion industry and the creative process. It’s something that can have a positive side & funny side because at the end of the day it’s fashion, clothing and there is humor in that.
CC: I asked Wade College students & alum to submit some questions they may have for you and received an overwhelming amount of young designers looking for advice on what to do right out of college. Do you have any tips for those designers?
ZP: That’s awesome! Absolutely! I think the most important thing is to focus and solidify your goal. Do you want to work in the fashion industry? Do you want to launch your own line? Do your strengths lie in how you sell a product? There are so many different facets to fashion. I think that there are so many talented designers out there, but not everybody is right or has the stamina to be making their own collection. I think the most important thing is to put together an incredible portfolio and the next thing is NEVER. STOP. CREATING. If you’re an emgering designer, you have to be sewing and making your own clothing. To me a big pit fall that I often see in people out of design school is that its two or three years later and they haven’t made a piece of clothing since their final graduate collection. Fashion is a quick turnaround, so if you in yourself don’t have that own motivation and ability to continuously create it’s hard to believe you have the creativity and stamina to survive in fashion.
CC: You have dressed so many A-List stars over the years and have had amazing red carpet moments, are there any moments that stick out for you?
ZP: Oh no, I never single them out. Usually the last moment I’ve had. Each one has either personal significance or, ya know, visual impact that was really exciting. But I can’t pick any favorites.
CC: You have accomplished a lot in the industry and have your hands in a little bit of everything. What’s next for you?
ZP: Well, it’s an exciting year we’re launching our eyewear which is optical and sun-wear. It introduces our first foray into mens, mens sun and optical so I finally got a pair of shades! We’re coming out with fine jewelry in my Zac Zac Posen collection and in our Truly Bridal Zac Posen collection. We’re launching our own hosiery and before I know it we will be shooting another season of Project Runway!
CC: In closing is there anything you’d like to say to your Dallas fans that are eagerly awaiting your arrival this month?
ZP: It’s just really exciting to come to Dallas and be able to personally bring the warmth of our brand & the excitement because I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for the women of Dallas and the support of Neiman Marcus!
For more information & to purchase tickets to F.G.I. Dallas Night Of Stars Gala click HERE.