Zac Posen is a girls' guy. It's true: Over the course of a 20-minute phone interview from his home base in New York, the 33-year-old designer manages to sing the praises of not one but three of his favourite women. Among them: Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha, pop-culture powerhouse Lena Dunham and Toronto philanthropist Suzanne Rogers, who has been leading the charge to bring Posen to Toronto for a big-ticket charity fashion show featuring his fall 2014 collection at the Carlu on April 28. Posen is no stranger to the spotlight: His show-stopping red-carpet gowns are favourites among Al-isters such as Natalie Portman, and his namesake line is growing into a global mega-brand with a new line of hosiery and eyewear forthcoming.
I understand that you're just back from vacation. How was it?
Yeah, one of my two weeks a year! We went to the Bahamas. I love the ocean – as soon as I see it I turn into a dolphin. I love to swim. I'm a water baby and a water sign – a Scorpio.
The words used most frequently to describe your designs are modern American glamour. What does the word modern mean to you?
Nothing! The word modern can be anything in 2014. It's used quite a lot to mean contemporary, of-the-moment.
Do you feel like your work is of-the-moment?
Yeah, I mean, I'm creating right now. But, you know, I'm also interested in pushing the art and craft of clothing into the future.
Can you tell me a bit about this fall collection you're bringing to Toronto? I understand it's only 25 looks, which is smaller than standard. Was that intentional?
It was definitely planned at 25 looks. I think we'll be showing more pieces in Toronto [Posen revealed the event will also feature looks from his pre-fall 2014 line]. But I think it's important to create and get a mood across with brevity. I wanted it to be crisp, clean and architectural – no ruffles! It's just about the cut of the clothing. There was also a sort of homage in there to one of my own favourite designers, [20th-century couturier] Charles James, who's actually going to be the subject of an exhibition at the Met next month.
Your appreciation for James's work is well known. You've even been compared to him. How does that sit with you?
I think we both love women, how you can celebrate femininity and even humanity through cut and form of clothing.
One woman you work with a lot is one of our own, Canadian model Coco Rocha.
Coco is part of my family. I've worked with her since her first season. You know, one of the things I love about fashion, especially in this social-media-driven world, is the ability it gives you to really create yourself. Coco [who is known for her charity work and has amassed more than 700,000 followers on Twitter] is a beautiful celebration of that.
I recently learned about one of your earliest jobs: babysitting. And one of your charges was Lena Dunham.
I'm immensely proud of Lena, but I always knew she had it. I'm just naturally drawn to people with star quality!
This interview has been condensed and edited.