American designer Zac Posen emerged as fashion’s newest star in 2002 when his alluringly feminine dresses made their New York City runway debut. Though he was still rather young to be a business owner, Posen earned enthusiastic write-ups on the pages of Vogue and other esteemed fashion magazines for his creative flair. He was hailed as the design world’s latest prodigy, and possibly even the savior who might rescue American fashion from the styles-and-sales slump it had experienced over the past decade. New York Times writer Guy Trebay was an early champion of Posen, noting in a September 2002 article that the twenty-two-year-old designer “occupies an important symbolic position in the fashion system one hears so much about. He is the future.”
Posen was born and raised in a Jewish family in New York City, residing in the SoHo neighborhood of lower Manhattan. He is the son of Susan (née Orzack), a corporate lawyer, and Stephen Posen, an artist. His interest in fashion design started early, and as a child he would steal yarmulkes from his grandparents’ synagogue to make ball dresses for dolls.
He attended Saint Ann’s School, a private school in Brooklyn and in his sophomore year interned with fashion designer Nicole Miller. As a teen, he also won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award. At age 16 he enrolled in the pre-college program at Parsons The New School for Design. He graduated from Saint Ann’s in 1999. For three years, Posen was mentored by curator Richard Martin at The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. At age 18, he was accepted into the womenswear degree program at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design at the University of the Arts London. In 2001, Posen constructed a gown entirely made from thin leather strips and dressmaker hooks and eyes that was displayed by the Victoria and Albert Museum and featured in their “Curvaceous” exhibition.
Posen lives in the SoHo neighborhood of Lower Manhattan with his partner Christopher Niquet and their three dogs.Posen is of Jewish descent, with immigrant ancestors from Russia and Poland.
In 2000, Posen received a prominent career opportunity after a dress he made for Naomi Campbell changed hands several times among several fashion insiders, including actress Paz de la Huerta.He is famously well-connected and has called Stella Schnabel his muse.Through Interview magazine Editor-in-Chief Ingrid Sischy, Posen met his future publicist and event producer Ed Filipowski of KCD, who offered to represent him for free.
Upon returning to New York in 2001, Posen set up an atelier in his parents’ living room, while they gave him a USD$15 allowance. In October of the same year, he was chosen to present a capsule collection as part of GenArt’s Fresh Faces in Fashion New York 2001. He received a grant for $20,000.After his first runway show in 2001, Posen was courted by fashion titans Yves Carcelle, president of LVMH Fashion Group; Sidney Toledano, CEO and director of Christian Dior S.A.; and Domenico De Sole, president and CEO of Gucci Group NV.Following the success of this presentation, Posen established his design studio in Laight Street Tribeca.
His awards include the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s 2004 Swarovski’s Perry Ellis Award for Womenswear. Posen has become a favorite of Natalie Portman, Rihanna, Amanda Seyfried, Kate Winslet, Claire Danes, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Mischa Barton, Beyoncé Knowles and others.
In 2004, high-end urban fashion brand Sean John made an investment deal with Posen. Ashley Olsen interned with Posen in 2005 while a student at The Gallatin School of Individualized Study, an undergraduate college within New York University.
In April 2008, Posen’s capsule collection created in collaboration with Target, Zac Posen for Target, was released in 75 stores in Australia. A preview of the collection was shown during March’s L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival
At the 2012 Academy Awards, Glenn Close wore a Posen gown on the red carpet, as did both Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Watts at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards.Other notables who have worn Posen creations on red carpets include Uma Thurman at the 2013 Met Ball); Sofia Vergara at the 2014 Golden Globes; Anna Chlumsky at the 2014 Emmy Awards; and Rita Ora at the 2014 AMA Awards.
In October 2016, Delta Air Lines unveiled new uniforms for their employees, which were designed by Posen.
On December 18, 2012, Posen was announced as an official judge on Project Runway starting with season 11, staying on until after season 16.On September 7, 2018, it was announced that Posen would not be returning to Project Runway for a 17th season on Bravo.
In February 2014, Posen partnered with another major retailer, David’s Bridal, to create Truly Zac Posen, a line of affordable bridal gowns. The line was Posen’s first official bridal collection. Also in 2014, he was named Creative Director for Brooks Brothers, tapped to modernize their signature women’s clothing and accessories line. In 2014, he introduced a more casual Pre-Fall 2015 Trunk Show collection.
In recent collaborations, Posen was selected to redesign the uniforms for Delta Air Lines 60,000 employees. As of May 2018, these uniforms are worn by Delta Air Lines staff members, from flight attendants to customer service.
In October 2017, Posen’s 288-page cookbook was published by Rodale Books. It is described as having “100 recipes every bit as decadent and inspiring as his designs.”
In 2018, Posen designed the blush silk gown Princess Eugenie of York wore for her evening wedding reception.
On November 1, 2019, House of Z and Z Spoke, the fashion brand owners of Posen’s company, announced an immediate closure of the label.