Designer Zac Posen Dishes On This Season’s Hottest Fashions, ‘Project Runway’ And Headlining The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival

Zac Posen has been a household name in the fashion industry since he launched his glamorous collection back in 2001. Since then, his keen ability to combine modern American glamour with couture design has made him a favorite of Hollywood’s most stylish women (think Beyonce, Uma Thurman, Amy Adams, Naomi Watts and Rihanna).

Today, his collections now include Zac Posen, ZAC Zac Posen, and Truly Zac Posen with offerings in handbags, accessories, bridal, eyewear, footwear, and fine jewelry. While Posen is best known for his red carpet eveningwear, he has also collaborated with MAC Cosmetics on limited edition colors, lipsticks and eye palette for runway shows. He is also the creative director behind the Brooks Brothers signature women’s collection and accessories and even partnered with Delta Air Lines on the redesign of their uniforms, which was unveiled earlier this spring.

We caught up recently with the “Project Runway” judge and cookbook author to chat about what determines a special design, why he wanted to chronicle his story in a documentary and his advice for emerging designers.

Tell us how the opportunity to headline the 13th Annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival came about.

It came about through a collaboration I did through Monogram Appliances and they asked if I would be interested in headlining the Wine and Food Festival. Last year, I was up there for a screening of the House of Z. We have a great following there. I love the combination of Old World charm of Newport combined with the love of design.

What was it like working with Delta Airlines to redesign their new uniforms?

Delta was an incredible life changing experience. It was over a three-year process. What was interesting and exciting was that it was a collaboration with the employees, me and my design team, and corporate. There was an enormous amount of work from research to job shadowing. I did it to see what the job entails from using equipment in the cabin to learning about the functions of armrests. It was a feeling of being totally incorporated into the Delta community. They are a part of my family and that’s a very powerful feeling. It has truly been life changing. It hit me when we launched and I started to see the great joy it gave employees. You could really see the true power of fashion. It’s great to be able to represent a great American name. We are already starting to think about the refresh, which will happen in 2020. I am really #deltaproud.

You have dressed some of the biggest names in Hollywood from Beyonce to Jennifer Lopez. Is there anyone you would like to see wearing your designs who you haven’t had the opportunity to work with yet?

I never name names because I don’t want to jinx it. There is always emerging talent and new people to collaborate with. I always say to people what I get most excited about is working with my clients. 

Do you have a specific design or line that you are most proud of?

That’s like choosing a favorite baby (laughs). In the couture business, some are very personal and they have a lot of emotions in a creative way throughout the conception and imagination to the finished product. I love the work I do with Brooks Brothers. I have been having great growth with my line. There is a lot of responsibility representing American style globally while reperfecting classics. I have a bridal jewelry line that gives an opportunity of a once-in-a-lifetime experience to women. It’s pretty gratifying to see it on social media. The price of an object doesn’t determine how special it is. That transcends to the person’s experience wearing it and that care translates to how we go about making each creation.

Why did you want to chronicle your career in the House of Z documentary?

I didn’t produce or direct it. I allowed it to happen because I was interested in telling the story. We filmed for three years. I was in a really great rebuilding place finding new reflection and perspective in my career. Part of it had to do with my experience of being on “Project Runway” for 6+ years. I felt like it was OK to let myself be a subject. There were misconceptions of who I was, where I was from and what it takes to make my clothing. I felt it important to tell my story. What I didn’t expect was the family journey along the way. It was cathartic and therapeutic for me in making the movie. I wasn’t interested in it being an advertorial. It was a big risk, but I have always loved film production and thought it was a great opportunity to tell my story.

What can we expect to see for hot styles this fall and winter?

Considering the erratic weather we have been having, I think we will see interesting cases for layering. Lighter outer pieces will be layered with shirting. I definitely think we will be seeing earth tones mixed with vibrant pops like rust mixed with fluorescent pink, or teal mixed with army green.

Zac PosenPhoto Credit: Zac Posen

Do you have any advice for an emerging designer?

Yeah, practice. Sketching collections is useless. It’s all about the emotion that goes into a garment. Wear it. Build your brand on Instagram. Get as much experience as possible. Ask yourself also if you are comfortable walking into a lifetime of investment. Don’t get into fashion for a lifestyle. That’s another reason I did the movie. There’s a different level of fabulosity when it comes to fashion. There’s the work side of it, the business side of it that is the daily grind. You have to be comfortable giving it your all while continuously being creative. Every day has its own challenges.

You have served as a judge on “Project Runway” and even wrote a cookbook. What can fans expect from you next?

I am working on a few different TV and film production projects that are exciting. One thing I have learned is that good things take time. Believe in quality. There are a lot of exciting opportunities that I am exploring in front of and behind the camera. I am also looking to expand “Cooking with Zac” to a second cookbook. I never expected to have reprints, but I am patient. I love desserts and gardening, so that could also be expanded on into a book or series. I have a wonderful international presence and am expanding on it. I am here to inspire others to be creative. Creativity is essential.