I first met Zac Posen 10 years ago. He had just launched his career and was already a success, dressing Hollywood glitterati, Upper East Siders and Main Liners. This time around, I got the chance to see him when he was in town for the Children’s Hospital’s Daisy Day Luncheon last month, sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue.
The 33-year-old was still riding high on the acclaim he’d received a few days earlier at the famed Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum in New York — fashion’s “Oscars.” He was noticed not only for looking fabulous himself, but for dressing his two dates, model/musician Karen Elson and burlesque star Dita Von Teese, two on everyone’s “best-dressed list.”
When asked about the Jewish influence on his life, Posen said, “I was certainly raised in a Jewish home, but am open to all religions and beliefs.”
“I very much live by the Jewish values I was brought up with. Generosity. Morals. Ethics. The collection you’ll see today has already raised over $3 million at various charity events across the country. It is my responsibility to give back, and I am in a unique position to be able to do that with my collection.” He has also created the Zac Posen Scholarship for Fashion Design at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards as well.
Growing up in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, in high school Zac became couturier to friends Lola and Stella Schnabel, daughters of artist Julian, while taking pre-college courses at Parsons.
He confirms a story that as a child, he made doll clothes from yarmulkes.
“Yes I did, but from Christmas ornaments also. Anything I could get my hands on. A yarmulke is a perfect bell skirt, also a perfect ‘B’ cup!” he said.
A budding star by age 16, London called and Posen went to Central Saint Martins College, where he was introduced to model Naomi Campbell and designer Azzedine Alaïa. And so it began. Private clients came calling. Back in New York, a stint at the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute allowed him to study the greats — sewing, draping and patterning all the while.
Among his clients: Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Michelle Obama. I asked, “You dress so many beautiful women, who really has the most natural style?” He replied, “That is a great question; so many celebrities have stylists today. Dita Von Teese never uses a stylist; she has true natural style. She knows what she likes and what looks best on her, and she always looks gorgeous.”
A workaholic, Posen says he loves what he does — both publicly and privately. Well-connected and photogenic, he is frequently seen in all the best places with all the best people. But don’t be fooled. Like many in his circle, he looks like a kid and works like a grown-up.
“My inspiration comes directly from women. After an evening out or an afternoon like this,” he said, referring to the Daisy Day event, “I go back to my studio and sketch and drape and work through the night.”
Full of charm and warmth, Posen is young enough to be a friend of my 30-year-old daughter. I found myself feeling very motherly, thrilled this phenomenal young man remains genuine and sweet as his success continues to skyrocket. Hugging goodbye, I added, “You are truly the ultimate nice Jewish boy — in the very best sense of the phrase.”
He answered, “I cannot imagine a nicer compliment!”