“House of Z”
Zac Posen’s House of Style
Zac Posen, was barely a teenager when he started making dresses for friends and then drafted his entire family to help him launch a haute-couture business, the a House of Z. Immediate success caused growing demand and the stress plus Posen’s “enfant-terrible” persona was the cause of serious tension within the Posen household which led to a very public breakup.
Film director Sandy Chronopoulos had access to every member of the Posen family to and their video records from which she has constructed a compelling film that takes around the Posen’s Fall 2015 collection. This collection was considered to be Posen’s “make-it-or-break-it moment”. We also see the fascinating back story to Posen’s career. Posen is a gay, dyslexic outsider with a talent for fashion. His family supported his dream of becoming a designer and he launched in their Soho loft. His friendships with famous women, including Claire Danes and Natalie Portman, helped catapult him to fame. At just 21 years of age, his work was being talked about and The “New York Times” announced that he was a new star that must be watched. It did not take long before Posen’s dresses were being worn on red carpets everywhere. Hip-hop mogul Sean Combs joined his team and provided music for Posen’s fashion shows. As his fame and ego grew, so did the distance between him and his family. This affected his artistry and he was soon known as “the former boy wonder.” When Posen’s meteoric rise ended, he struggled with depression yet plotted a comeback and his friends were on his side. Posen is an exquisite craftsman and showman and filmgoers will love this look at him and this story of familial love, determination and redemption.
Posen documents himself throughout his young fashion career and we quickly understand that his rise in the New York fashion world was aided by privilege and connections. Posen first made waves in fashion during his time at the Brooklyn arts high school Saint Ann’s School, where he met New York fashion insiders like Paz de la Huerta and Claire Danes, and it was then that he began his entry into the competitive fashion world. Posen shares what it was like to grow up in a family that is wealthy and supportive of his talent. (He is the son of artist Stephen Posen based in an artistic Lower Manhattan neighborhood). Posen also enjoyed the early support from Vogue editor, Anna Wintour.
Posen’s talent for design and self-promotion were apparent even from an early age. After photographing his designs on friends like de la Huerta and Danes, he went to London to attend the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Even in these early stages of his career, it’s clear that Posen loves the spotlight, and we see how his brash personality and photogenic presence came together at the right time and greatly helped his meteoric rise in the fashion industry. After his first runway show in 2001 at the age of 21, we see Posen having already conquered the fashion world.
From there, the film follows a conventional rise-fall-redemption documentary structure, with Posen at a crossroads as the world deals with the fallout of the 2008 U.S. recession.. Posen is open about the creative, business, and personal mistakes he made during this stage of his life, and is compelling as always as an interview subject. But the missteps that he made during these collections are expected for anyone who find success at an early age and he did not suffer a profound existential crisis as some thought. We see that he refined his taste in tailoring and he put emphasis on the value of his hand-crafted approach to fashion in an industrialized climate. Through these sequences Posen shares the details and process behind every stitch of his work. The film is at its best when Posen speaks through his work. From what we see in this film, it is very clear that Posen knows exactly how to work an audience.