"There is no formula, but there is a playing field." Zac Posen shared this insight with SCAD students on Wednesday. The talk was a special event that precedes this weekend's upcoming festivities. Posen and his interviewer, WWD's Jessica Iredale, are in town for SCAD's "Seen Gala" which is the premiere showcase and fundraiser for the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta.
Zac Posen has been named this year's Honorary Chairman of the Seen Gala while Jessica Iredale is the Senior Fashion Features Editor for Women's Wear Daily. Posen, himself, admitted that he is most recognizable for his role as a judge on Project Runway, quipping that, "At any given moment my face is on a [television] somewhere around the world." However, this is already his second life in the limelight after breaking through as a world class fashion designer.
"Puff Daddy took me under his wing."
At the age of 21, Posen was adopted by the media, propositioned by investors, and befriended by seasoned models and starlets. Somehow, he manages to be humble about his role in the machine. Over the course of his hour long talk, Posen shared details about his meteoric rise to fashion fame including the affects of timing and predatory buzz of the fashion media. His story about how he invited Sean "Puffy" Combs to create music for one his early shows was quite candid, saying that Combs was fascinated by his process yet he also became strict financial investor.
Iredale expertly prodded Posen for the useful context behind all of Posen's anecdotes: How many collections does Posen work on each year? Eight. How many styles are designed per collection? About 200 before it is whittled down. How does Posen get actresses like Natalie Portman to wear his clothes? Word of mouth and catching the eye of their stylists. To Iredale's credit, she theatrically winced, but didn't offer any rebuttal when Posen pointed out that her employer had previously excoriated one of his collections in Paris.
They patiently explained Posen's career path from childhood to present day, however Posen peppered in some sincere advice between biographical chapters. While students naturally want to hear about how to protect themselves, Posen says that there is "No One Idea" and that stealing and copying is going to happen to you. After a particularly, long and perhaps self-involved question from the audience about dealing with business partners, Posen succinctly countered, "That's life." He then followed up by saying, "You have to hold on to the good parts [of creating fashion], because there are constant struggles that never end."
Without sounding glib or cheesy, Posen consistently suggested that keeping a positive outlook is important for a career in fashion. He claimed that if you can't find at least one thing you like about another designer's work there is something wrong with you-"You are bitter, you are frustrated, or you are just being stubborn." Both on Project Runway and at SCAD's events, Posen tries to stress celebrating the positive nature of creativity.
To learn more or to purchase tickets you can visit SCAD's website.