Zac Posen

Zac Posen is living in Los Angeles these days as he gets ready to take part in the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation’s inaugural ball, taking place virtually at 6 p.m. PST today on World AIDS Day.

“It is so important to be able to raise awareness, raise funds so that I hope that I can help and see an AIDS-free generation in my lifetime,” said the designer.

He’s been involved with the organization — founded by Hollywood star and activist Elizabeth Taylor in 1991 to fight the AIDS crisis — for two years, visiting HIV/AIDS clinics in New York and Washington, D.C., “being hands-on, understanding and hearing the stories,” he continued.

Posen joins Angela Bassett, Dame Joan Collins, Alexandra Daddario and Vanessa Williams as a member of its benefit committee. The foundation is also supported by a host committee of well-known names who include President Bill Clinton; Barbra Streisand; Whoopi Goldberg; Aileen Getty; Colin Farrell; Elizabeth Segerstrom; Sir Elton John and David Furnish; Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson; Dr. Gabriel and Christine Chiu; Earvin “Magic” and Cookie Johnson, as well as model and entrepreneur Kathy Ireland, a friend of Taylor’s and the evening’s host.

The online event — sponsored by American biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc. (receiving an award tonight for its treatment and prevention of HIV) and Bulgari — will include a performance by Williams and an auction in partnership with Christie’s. Posen will host a pre-event gathering for VIP attendees to meet and converse.

“It will be in the Zoom realm,” he said of the talk. “A free-form kind of conversation…If you don’t have the excitement of actually attending an event in-person, you kind of have to create that fun and sense of excitement within that shared virtual moment together. When it comes to charity elements and in the virtual Zoom realm, you have to keep it entertaining, because people are very generously contributing to the foundation. We’ll keep it fun. We’ll keep it real.”

The chat will be centered on HIV/AIDS awareness, the cause’s achievements to date and the road ahead to continue the fight to end the disease.

“I’m an in-person person,” Posen said of adapting to the new, more digital world this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “I like live interaction with people. I’m a social creature. It’s unusual. It’s quite challenging.”

How’s it going on the West Coast? (In L.A., COVID-19 cases have been surging.)

“It’s going, it’s going,” continued Posen, a native New Yorker. “Crazy times in the world, but it’s going. I’m healthy and busy. That’s what we can hope for.”

He’s been creating commissioned couture for private clients since the closing of his namesake line, he shared. As he continues to work on various endeavors (he released a cookbook in 2017, and last September presented an impromptu fashion event in Central Park), Posen is also developing entertainment projects. He’s no stranger to the world of television, most notably as a judge on “Project Runway.”

“I’ve always had a really special relationship with L.A. and obviously within the entertainment industry,” he continued. “You know, [I’m] kind of feeling out different options and possibilities. Obviously, first and foremost, I am a designer, so I’m just kind of seeing what feels right and where I know I can lend my talent and energy and skill set. I’m waiting to see the right opportunity for that, is what I would say. I can’t divulge too much, but I’ve been working in development within the entertainment space on a few projects on camera and then from a producing side.”

Reflecting on the state of the fashion industry today, he said: “It’s a great opportunity for designers or any form of creator to really give themselves the time at this moment, because we have the time to really look at what they want to say and what they want to contribute in the future and how they contribute. Within fashion, I think that there is a moment of transition and reality of change of scale maybe in the future. And I don’t think that that is a bad thing. Just as we have a new generation of consumers that definitely have a different value set, I think a lot of people in fashion have seen that it’s changing, and I think that fashion has to and will respond accordingly. There are no rules in fashion, and I think it’s an exciting time for people to really look outside of the box in terms of what they make and how they make it and the scale of it.”

Prior to the health crisis, the fashion industry was “living in a time where it felt like a very kind of relentless rhythm,” he added. “And as we look forward, it’s a really great moment for people to question what they want to put out there and how they want to put it out there and connect with their customer…We have to keep humanity thriving, and creativity is essential and part of that — and giving back. That’s really important, to be able to lend your voice, your funds, if you have the means to, or talent to really help others. As we are all separated, our community becomes more valued in a way that is really important, at least to me. It’s a tragic moment, and people are suffering. We all have to take care of each other as much as we can.”