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12-09-2011
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Is Zac Posen Fashion's Biggest Poseur?
i thought this story with a lot of insider information was interesting. i wonder if he's a real life zoolander!
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Just days before his fall 2006 collection debuted, Zac Posen was in his Tribeca studio holding court. The white-hot fashion designer with a baby face and cherubic jet-black curls watched as a Russian beauty sashayed across the floor in his latest creation, a magenta party dress. After a dramatic pause, he proclaimed the garment "perfection!"
Across the room, Posen's CEO, his mother Susan, was crouched on the floor inspecting the hem of an evening gown. His sister Alexandra, the company's creative director, held pins in her mouth, her brow furrowed. Posen, meanwhile, was upbeat, caffeinated and playful. In a past life, he mused, he was "Mad King Ludwig" of Bavaria, a deeply eccentric royal famed for his lavish fairytale castles and his love of elaborate uniforms. "I'd kill for his clothes," Posen laughed.
It was the sort of theatrical, campy overstatement that Posen, accustomed to an audience, was famed for. Now, just five years later, it's the kind of pose that has critics declaring the 30-year-old designer out of fashion.
Though editors and fashion insiders concede that Posen is a rare talent, they say his larger-than-life personality has become a stumbling block. "Zac was always ridiculous," says a stylist who has worked on Posen's runway shows and asked not to be named because of their business relationship. "But then he became a parody of himself. People around him have a head for business and try to rein him in, but he's never had to work from the bottom up, and he's too used to everyone flapping around him to notice that his name doesn't mean what it used to."
After exploding onto the fashion scene in 2001, the precocious Posen went from fashion student to rock star in record time. His ultra-feminine dresses, crafted in luxe fabrics, with cinched waists, corseted bodices, feathers and detailed seam work, could cost up to $20,000. P. Diddy was an investor as part of Yucaipa Companies, while divas like J.Lo, Beyoncé and Eva Longoria donned Posen's gowns for their red-carpet appearances.
In the past year, however, Posen's family-run company has been beset by internal squabbles and plagued by turnover. His mother was ousted from the firm last October, and he has returned to show his collections in New York after a failed quest to take Paris by storm. While he opened a new store in the Meatpacking District late last month, Saks—the only department store to stock his bridge line, Z Spoke—has dropped his account.
Posen's ego has been slow to adjust. While he still garbs stars like Oprah, who wore a gunmetal-gray gown to this year's Academy Awards, he didn't appear at her fitting, dispatching a twentysomething publicist to do the job instead. Posen, who declined to be interviewed for this article, would not comment on being a no-show. But a former friend of his says the move was "typical Zac. Who says no to Oprah?"
The volatile Posen has seen less and less support from celebrities and magazines in part because of a perception that he is rude and unlikable, says one magazine editor who knows the designer but asked to remain anonymous to preserve her relationship with the label.
"Zac Posen is like a Zoolander character. I've never seen a side to him that's not 'Zac Posen the Major Fashion Designer,'" she says. "Some designers have real friends at magazines who champion them, but I'm not sure that's the case with Zac these days."
Some say Posen, whose public persona is still wrapped up in the no-holds-barred silliness of pre-recession New York, looks like a relic compared with the latest wave of low-key designers like Doo-Ri Chung, Jason Wu and Joseph Altazurra. Suddenly, restraint rules the runways. Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer Prize–winning fashion critic, says that with the rise of designers like the Rodarte girls, the fashion world has "shifted the sensibility away from hoopla and toward the craft."


But Posen, who once decorated his catwalk with five baby grand pianos, isn't known for his unassuming aesthetic.
With an artist father and a lawyer-turned-venture-capitalist mother, Posen was raised in Soho and first gained attention as a high school student, when he began dressing classmates like Stella Schnabel, the daughter of artist Julian Schnabel. After graduating in 1999, he went to London to study at Central St. Martins, the prestigious art college that turned out fashion stars Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney. He certainly made an impression on his tutor, Howard Tangay, when he arrived at school with strands of ivy tumbling from his hair. "He just explodes with passion," Tangay has said.
After two years at St. Martin's, impatient to launch his line, Posen moved back to Manhattan, telling the UK's Telegraph, "I want to be a major force." He got started in the fall of 2001 with the help of his mother, clearing the living room of their loft to make room for the clothes.
Givhan was a guest at Posen's first runway show on the Lower East Side in 2002. "He had an explosive first presentation," recalls Givhan, now a special correspondent for Newsweek and the Daily Beast. "He had some pretty big models walking, and the young Barbara Bush was in the audience. It was like, 'Who is this kid?' I remember he came out in tails. At the end of the show, he did this really deep bow…There was nothing bashful about it. And I remember being fascinated that he could get such a significant group of people there when he was a complete unknown."
By the spring of 2004 Posen seemed to have an endless supply of the fairy dust that can transform a young fashion student from a wannabe into the next big thing. He leapfrogged from his Lower East Side venue to Bryant Park's main tent with a capacity of nearly 1,100—a space usually reserved for fashion giants like Diane von Furstenberg or Michael Kors. But Posen managed to fill it to the rafters, creating spectacles worthy of a rock concert while booking major models for maximum press. At one show in 2006, the hall was so theatrically lit that editors tripped over themselves trying to find their seats. Recalls one: "It almost seemed like they wanted to distract you from the clothes, it was so dark."
The fame hit so fast it became something of a handicap. "He had to deal with a lot of things before he was ready to," Givhan notes. "People stopped thinking of him as a new young designer. He gave off this aura of somebody who was way more established than he was."
According to the stylist who worked with him, Posen often behaved like a diva at his studio, snapping at staffers. In 2007 he also began to lash out at his so-called friends. In February of that year, the socialite Arden Wohl, known mostly for her love of headbands, became the object of Posen's wrath when she dared to show up to his Fashion Week afterparty wearing another designer's dress. Sources told Page Six that Posen "kicked Wohl out of the Fashion Week afterparty at Midtown eatery Amalia. He yelled, 'How dare you, you traitor,' and then pushed her in the forehead with his finger."
By 2009 the Zac Posen team was experiencing significant turbulence, and Posen was acting out in response. After a Cartier party that April, word surfaced that he had approached Glenda Bailey, the editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, and voiced his outrage at having been asked to pose alongside a Sesame Street character for a fashion spread. "I didn't want to model with the Count," Posen later told the New York Times.
According to a source who was there that evening, "Zac had convinced himself that [the request] was insulting. For some reason he thought it was anti-Semitic." For the spread, which appeared in the September 2009 issue of the magazine, Oscar de la Renta posed with Grover and Diane von Furstenberg posed with Big Bird. Posen was nowhere to be seen.
According to several fashion editors, his penchant for confrontation began to get out of hand. Posen regularly made calls to key editors asking why his clothes hadn't been pictured in their pages or complaining about their placement. "He was desperately frustrated and insecure," says a former friend who asked not to be named because she fears retribution. He couldn't stand seeing labels like Rodarte getting attention, she adds.
In late 2009 Posen's VP of communications, Karen Duffy, announced that her position had been eliminated. Posen also downsized from the glitzy main tent and instead showed his spring 2010 collection (at the unfashionable hour of 9 a.m.) in the Altman Building, known for its presentations of less acclaimed designers. According to insiders, Posen the person was detracting from Posen the brand. And he wanted both to be taken more seriously.
But this, too, proved to be a problem. One of Posen's most serious stumbles, insiders say, was his decision to move
his fashion shows from New York to Paris in the fall of 2010. "There is no reason for me to show my collection in New York, because it's not about craft and technique there," sniffed Posen, alienating—well, the city's entire fashion establishment.
If Posen thought his move to Paris signaled his rise to the status of European icons like Yves Saint Laurent, his reviews told another story. The New York Times' Cathy Horyn sniped: "Mr. Posen's [spring 2011] collection was…a bit generic: a glamorous romp of feathers, sheer, slithery dresses and plume-tipped stilettos."
But the poor reception did not deter Posen, who has become oddly insular and has lost a sense of his place within the industry, according to the ex-friend. When John Galliano was ousted from Dior last spring for anti-Semitic comments, people who knew Posen joked that he was "up all night, waiting for the call to take the job," she adds. "He truly believes he's in the same league as Tom Ford or Alexander McQueen, that hundreds of thousands of people would line up to see him at the Met."
His mother's long-standing role within the company had only served to fluff Posen's ego, the source explains. "He's her son, so of course she thinks he's a genius. She's the mother who placates
the petulant child," she says. Last fall, as Yucaipa Companies pressured the designer to turn a profit, Posen's mother was replaced by executive Susan Davidson.
As a result, Posen is now intent on changing the narrative, proving he can be both artful and commercially viable. With a recent Target line under his belt, he is making a bid for the masses. His latest offering for Z Spoke also features more grounded, even sensible, looks—a departure from his megawatt red-carpet moments.
He is also bringing his runway show back to Manhattan. This season Posen will show his spring 2012 collection at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall—a weekend time slot that's less than alluring to major editors.
"I really grew up in a different way this year," Zac told the Wall Street Journal last spring. But as Posen faces the new, more workaday realities of a changing industry, some of the magic that made him a star may be lost. "Zac reminds me of another era in fashion," Givhan says. "He's a maestro. It reminds me of a time when there was an embrace of fashion as this fun, entertaining industry.

"He's got a lot more competition now," she continues. Early on in his career, "he was one of a only a few young guns. But people like Jason Wu have cut into a lot of the razzle-dazzle that he once owned. When you burn that white hot, eventually you burn out," the critic adds. "That overwhelming hotness has cooled off." (sarah horne - nypost magazine -nypost.com)


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12-09-2011
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Quote:

"There is no reason for me to show my collection in New York, because it's not about craft and technique there," sniffed Posen, alienating—well, the city's entire fashion establishment.

welcome back Zac!




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12-09-2011
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IMO,he is the right man to replace John the be Dior designer,but...........

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12-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AileenK View Post
IMO,he is the right man to replace John the be Dior designer,but...........
Good one.

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i don't know her. claudia schiffer doesn't know her. she was never in paris, we don't know her.
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12-09-2011
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This was a good laugh. Lol

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12-09-2011
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I have never actually liked him, pretty dresses but he seems like a precocious brat.

His voice and tone is grating and he appears like a Cocky bitch, who feels that he is the most important thing to hit the fashion industry. I have no time for him or his clothes really.

There are 1000 others who do what he does, but better.

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12-09-2011
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Quote:
he was "up all night, waiting for the call to take the job
I know it's kind of mean but this made me luagh

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12-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucy92 View Post

Suddenly, restraint rules the runways. Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer Prize–winning fashion critic, says that with the rise of designers like the Rodarte girls, the fashion world has "shifted the sensibility away from hoopla and toward the craft."
haha iono that made me laugh. interesting and very entertaining read. though, i met him recently in june and i was actually surprised how nice he was (i've heard otherwise). maybe that was a good day.

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12-09-2011
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Thanks for posting this Lucy92-- it was as hilarious as it was interesting-- and brutal! You can tell Zac has burned a lot of bridges.

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12-09-2011
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Oh Gosh ... Ive never liked him (nor his designs) but this is a wee bit too harsh. :s

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12-09-2011
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so his company hasnt turned a profit yet? i thought his company was doing a bit better. at least he's almost a household name now through the target line.

i dont see him as being in the same league as ford or mcqueen. i dont think he's all that good at separates at all. he needs to work on that.

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12-09-2011
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is it harsh though? if it comes down to his professionalism and even his integrity perhaps there should be some truth to uncover. and the revelations of his self-centeredness and jealousy....no surprise in that respect. he always reeked of spoiled brat syndrome.

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12-09-2011
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Why he is being labeled a poseur? It seems like he's spoiled and egomaniac, which is not unheard of in the world of fashion, and is particularly not unheard of when you get a lot of accolades and buzz at a young age and also work closely with your mother. I think that Zac Posen is talented and I see him having the promise to be something big in the coming years but I cannot figure out what the best route for him is: should he stay in the States and build his label a la Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, or should he, in addition to designing for his eponymous line, go and work for "the man," namely see if he can score a creative director's position at one of the PPR or LVMH brands?

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12-09-2011
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He's been such a mess in the last few years. I used to like him as a designer, but this whole moving back and forth between the states and Paris was ridiculous. Why does the city matter? A good designer will prosper wherever he's at. There's no need to move from place to place to show you have talent. If the talent is there, people will notice it.

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12-09-2011
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i honestly don't see him still being around in 5 years or so....

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