NEW YORK — Valerie Steele’s Q&A with Zac Posen Tuesday could easily have been mistaken for a round of “Six Degrees of Separation.”
In canvassing his career during FIT’s Couture Council luncheon at Doubles, the designer mentioned the myriad of friends and insiders who influenced him especially in leaner years. “I wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for Tom Ford. He took a risk, and wrote a check, and paid for my second fashion show without meeting me. That was our first show with real p.r.,” Posen said. “I started the company with money saved up from lemonade sales on Spring Street. That’s how you learn profit and margins, advertising, everything.”
Dressing like Charlie Chaplin for his first day of high school at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn didn’t deter him from befriending Lola Schnabel, Reena Hammer, Jemima Kirke and Lena Dunham. Through an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Richard Martin, Posen met John Galliano and Alexander McQueen whom he occasionally helped as a research assistant. And a teenage internship with Nicole Miller put Karen Elson in his orbit of friends. Even though he once won bronze in the New York State Math Championship, Posen said working in fashion always appealed to him more than academics. “I really didn’t do that well in school. I was really dyslexic and I had really bad ADD growing up. I was like a guinea pig for Ritalin, which was actually great for later in life. Drugs weren’t so interesting to me,” he said.
In London, at Central Saint Martins, he interacted with Louise Wilson and Richard Tangye was his champion. At that time, Sophie Dahl was a housemate, Jessica Joffe became a fit model, Anita Pallenberg acted as “a surrogate mom” and the V&A included one of the dresses he designed into its permanent collection. Another chance meeting between Schnabel and Naomi Campbell on the Eurostar led to the supermodel ordering clothes from him and teaching the designer how to fit. “I think she gave me 200 quid [$320] for fabric, which I thought was a fortune,” he said.
Posen, who will return to “Project Runway” as a judge and has a documentary in the works, even acknowledged critics of his younger, brasher self. “I would have strangled myself too. I was just too young and too in-your-face and not humble,” he said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast