Zac Posen on the runway Spring 2010 New York
Zac Posen on the runway Spring 2010 New York

NEW YORK, Oct 30, 2001 (Updated Dec 1, 2009 to add photo)/ — “It’s my 21st birthday!” exclaims up-and-coming fashion designer Zac Posen from atop a flight of stairs leading to his Soho studio, which is actually his parents’ apartment.

But, before you think this is the story of a little boy with a big dream, suffice it to say Posen’s accomplishments well surpass what one would presume from his age.

After spending his high school years interning at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume
Institute (an experience Posen refers to as his “true education”) and designing clothes for
Nicole Miller and bags for Tocca, Posen went on to study at the famed Central Saint Martins in London.

There he shared a flat with artist Julian Schnabel’s daughter Lola, his friend and fitting model. One of the creations he crafted on her – an intricately hooked, leather-strip, Victorian breakaway gown – hangs until January 2002 in the “Curvaceous” exhibit of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

On his first day in London, swingin’ ’60s actress Anita Pallenberg approached Posen and became his surrogate mother of sorts. Soon he was designing custom-made dresses for the likes of Naomi Campbell, Jade Jagger and Milla Jovovich, as well as “pals from back in the day” Angela Lindvall and Karen Elson.

Then Barneys came knocking, as did Henri Bendel (where his Spring 2002 collection will retail starting December).
Now it’s time for Posen’s first formal runway show: Gen Art’s Fresh Faces of Fashion 2001. He’s got several of Miguel Adrover’s former sewers making final stitches, Stella Schnabel (Julian’s other daughter) styling the presentation, and society girl Fiona Scarry – seductively clad in one of his older designs, a candy-striped, fishtailed frock – fetching him coffee.

And Posen? He’s smoking his second cigarette of the morning, feeling a bit sleepy from a celebratory dinner the night before. Dressed in black YSL slacks by Hedi Slimane, a crisp white shirt with collar turned up, and broken in, two-tone shoes, he appears a bit distressed, though still impeccably elegant – like his designs.
Inspired by designers from the ’30s and ’40s, like Madeleine Vionnet, who cut to flatter the female body, Posen’s couture-goes-daytime designs – mostly bias-cut, pleated and pulled, and lushly fabricated in suedes and stretch satins – are meant for tough, eccentric women, entirely feminine and sexy.

“She’s very distinct,” Posen says of his audience. “She knows who she is. She walks down the street and tells the men to f*** off.”
In February, Posen plans on showing his fall 2002 collection (which will also include a men’s line) during New York Fashion Week. It will undoubtedly draw the stars and ensuing press. But first, Posen, like any other kid just out of college, has to find an apartment/studio of his own.

“For now, my parents are cool with me overtaking the living room, but not for much longer…” he explains, bashfully.