The New York womenswear designer tells Marie Davies about his global ambitions and how he has learnt from his mistakes.
Why did you decide to move to Paris Fashion Week from New York for spring 11 to show the Zac Posen mainline?
We had a joyous time in New York but Paris offers a different level of exposure and has a great history of craft and construction of garments. The ideas about femininity and sexuality are very different in Paris to the US. In addition I met [Japanese designer] Yohji Yamamoto who took a good look at my work and thought it was necessary that I had a creative dialogue in Europe because of the way I look at clothes and construct them.
What are your plans for the UK market?
We’re having a huge European focus right now and I’m fully engrossed in the history of the UK from my time studying at Central Saint Martins College in London. In the next two years retail will be important [for the label] and I aim to have a store in the UK. Harvey Nichols has been a huge supporter and partner, and we are looking at other stockists who would suit the brand. Along with clothing I have plans for fragrances and accessories. I want to build a global brand.
For the first time you are showing diffusion line Z Spoke on the New York catwalk. Why now?
Z Spoke is in its fifth season as a brand and originally went exclusively into [US department store] Saks. It’s been an incredible success and was a very exciting opportunity to have a dialogue with the wider public. The idea was to create a trend and sports-driven brand that encompasses three parts: intelligence, humour and femininity of a woman. My inspiration for spring 11 is tough, flirty and feminine clothing that looks great on curvaceous women.
You’ve collaborated with US retailers Target and Saks. How has this affected your business?
It’s made me think vertically about the business, right from the draping of fabric through to off-price selling. I’ve done an enormous amount of corporate collaboration including with Amex and this has helped with how to build my business; the more involved I get in strategy the more efficient and effective the business can be. Of course, I’ve made mistakes but you learn from them and learn how to stay calm and keep driven.
How do you feel about off-price selling?
It’s a huge part of the industry nowadays. The most important thing for me is to keep the product far enough out of season so it doesn’t affect the true tribe of customers.
What are Z Spoke’s influences for spring 11?
It’s very vibrant, looking at the late 1970s with a South American palette. The intensity of the colour is very important and I like to play with the tones. The range encompasses T-shirts, shirts, trousers and cocktail dresses.
What celebrities do you see wearing Z Spoke?
We’ve been fortunate that Alexa Chung, Dita Von Teese and Leigh Lezark have all picked up on the Z Sac bag.
How do you relax?
I cook, and I like to party at clubs such as the Boom Boom Room at the top of The Standard Hotel in New York.
What brands or designers do you most admire?
Nicolas Ghesquière and the way he has built Balenciaga. He protected the creative process.
What was the last thing you bought?
Speckled lilies for my house, and a pair of shoes.
Who is your style icon?
Quentin Crisp was amazing, as was Isabella Blow.
Zac Posen designs his eponymous womenswear label and diffusion range Z Spoke