#Movies & TV

“Project Runway” Judge and Designer Zac Posen Talks About His Toughest Challenge

by Ilyssa Panitz

Zac Posen has a lot to say about season 12 of “Project Runway” and he’s not holding back. Now sitting in the driver’s seat for a second time on the Lifetime series, Posen shifted from overdrive into neutral so he can chat with a group of reporters, including DivineCaroline. (YEAH!) Posen confesses, no matter how much experience you may have there is always a lot to learn.


DivineCaroline: Does judging Project Runway make you want to use more of those unconventional materials like the ones we saw used in the first episode in your own work?
Zac Posen: I’ve made dresses out of raffia on the runway myself. You know, I think that I like how alternative material challenges push the designer’s creativity, and push them to think abstractly, and not have to worry about the wearability in this challenge. But it still has to be desirable.

DC: If you could create your own challenge what would it be?
ZP: I desperately want to do the Zac glamour red carpet challenge and [have the designers] create something that is red carpet worthy. My challenge would include a dress that is photographable and presents the point of view that, “As a designer, I know how to create a super-star moment.”

DC: You are occupying the chair where Michael Kors once sat. Do you feel any pressure to come up with the kind of ideas we saw from him?
ZP: You have to remember that it’s fashion! I want to stay true to my point of view and how I see fashion. I try to encourage the best out of each individual creator. In terms of Michael, he has given incredible guidance and support.

DC: What’s your take on the talent this season?
I will say that this season we had to turn up the volume with the group of contestants because it was no longer team challenges. We had to push them to do their best work and understand the incredible opportunity that they have being on the show. They get exposure to a wide audience.

DC: The clothes we are watching these contestants create, are any of their designs going to be among the new trends for the fall season?
Absolutely. An interesting part of this show is you see get to see which designers have a true point of view and which ones are going to be trailblazers and create their own trends.

DC: Can you give me an example of a look we will start seeing a lot of?
I definitely think that as this season progresses you’re going to see some of the designers start to play with what I call more wearable and sculptural clothing. You will also see elements of simplicity that the design panel really praised. When something is sculptural, wearable and has a level of simplicity, it’s just effective.

DC: Who should viewers keep an eye on?
I think that with Dom [Streater]’s designs, she has such an incredible ability to work with prints and I think as we go into fall, that’s certainly going to be a big trend.

DC: What makes the better designer: boring done right or risky done wrong?
There’s a very big difference between what I do in my own studio and how I build a line, and the different requirements that that takes to present a one-statement sensation down a fashion television runway. When I build a collection, I have to bridge the gap between creative message, sell-ability, desirability and all of the components that go behind pricing. I also ask myself, is there a need for this in the market?

DC: How do you rate yourself as a judge?
When I’m judging the runway I try to judge on what steps and emotion [the designers are] able to create or extract out of their garments. I look for originality, creativity, construction and execution. I also try to ask myself, what is their point of view? I try to take my knowledge being a hands-on builder and apply that to when I drape my pieces on the back of a customer.

DC: Which celebrity guest judge have you enjoyed working with the most and who gave the most compelling critiques?
Kelly Osbourne is a super star. Not only is she one of my best friends in the world, and I adore her, but she is excited about fashion. She loves it and she thrives on it. Kelly was an exquisite judge. Kate Bosworth was also a really good judge. Allison Williams got really into it and Jesse Tyler Ferguson was the surprise hit judge of the season.

DC: If you could team up with any designer for a challenge who would you pick?
There are so many designers that I would dream to collaborate with. I’m going to give two very far-out designers. I’m going to say I would love to team up with a Ralph Lauren and Yohji Yamamoto from Japan.

DC: What is the one style or trend that never goes out of style?
Personal style. Expressing your personal points of view through your style is always the rage and never goes out of style. If you follow trends, you will follow a roadmap directly to being out of trend. Express your personality through the way you dress, and you’ll never go out of fashion.