Exclusive: Zac Posen Talks About Being A Project Runway Judge

Exclusive: ‘Project Runway’ Judge Zac Posen On What Makes A Winning Design, What He’s Learned & More!

zacPhoto Courtesy Project Runway

Zac Posen has had an almost storybook rise to success: born and raised in Soho; discovered his love of design as a child; interned for Nicole Miller as a young man; mentored by a curator from the Costume Institute; attended college at the legendary Central Saint Martins; and is currently one of the most recognized, award-winning, young designers in fashion. And he’s still writing his happy ending. The newest chapter in Zac’s fairytale fashion career takes place on television’s super-popular design competition show “Project Runway,” where Posen replaced Michael Kors to join Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia as a judge for a second season. Posen’s gentlemanly demeanor coupled with a keen analytical eye adds a new edge to the show—currently in it’s 12th season. We had a chance to sit down with Zac to chat about this season of “Project Runway,” what he’s looking for in a winning design, what he’s learned so far, and lots more.

Check it out below!



kate-episode-2Season 12, episode 2′ winning design by Kate

On what he looks for in a winning design…

I’m more interested in creativity and construction and originality, more than is it the wearable piece and can it be sold in a store. Because at the end of the day, 90% of what you see goes out, you know, professional and established designers never get to a store. And it’s all about message and creating a sort of content for fashion and for branding. So that’s how I judge what goes out on the runway. We don’t need to see another perfect little black dress. I want to see what can they do that becomes a wow out of a little black dress


On Project Runway’s addition of the “Tim Gunn Rescue”…

Well, I always value mentors and educators to the highest regard. And [Tim Gunn] is really behind he scenes, you know. So, I think it’s wonderful that Tim has the ability to see something which we’re not aware of when we’re judging, and to be able once in the season to make that call [to rescue a designer from elimination]. He’s an invaluable resource to the show and to designers.


On whether he feels pressured to compete with Michael Kors’s snarky judging style…

After you have somebody on a show for a decade, has really created a rapport with the flow of the show and the audience, [replacing Michael Kors] was a huge challenge. I definitely was nervous about taking that on, but I also wanted to really stay true to my point of view and how I see fashion.


On what he’s learned from the other judges…

What’s interesting is that we all have very different aesthetic points of views and that’s what makes it a good judging panel. I think Heidi comes from a point of view of would she wear it; Nina comes from a point of view of would she shoot it; and I come from a point of view, which is, you know, I want to look at them and respect them as individual creators and say, did they creatively execute the project, have they executed the construction, and is there a point of view and originality in the garment that they’re presenting.

So, I’ve definitely learned. It’s always interesting to get into the head, you know, of Nina, who I’ve worked with for over a decade and has been a close friend and to just sort of hear and see how she’s looking at fashion at the moment. And I think Tim and I are very much on the same page throughout each episode.