Designer Zac Posen has outfitted nearly every A-list star over the years, and now, for the first time, he opens up about his favorite looks and the friends he's made along the way. Read on to see who brought her child to a fitting, who's "the most fun" in the atelier, and who sent Posen films and books to help create him create her Met Ball look.
Uma Thurman, Met Ball 2013
"Uma is American royalty—one of the most beautiful women in the world," says Posen of his "dear friend." So, when she tapped him to design a dress for this year's punk-themed Met Ball, he jumped at the chance. "It was a big debut for her because she'd just had a baby, and I wanted to emphasize what a force of nature she is," he explains. "The only nod to the theme was this very interesting color—mean green, poison apple green. It was a wink and a nod to Poison Ivy, a role she created."
Amber Heard, Met Ball 2012
Posen met Heard "on a blind date at the Mercer Hotel" in New York City, he says. "We went to a room, she took off her clothing, I measured her, we talked about concepts and it became a great dialogue over five months, sending each other films and great books to read," he explains of creating this "glamorous" gown. Because the theme of the gala was Schiaparelli, they chose this "yummy" color, but that was the only reference. "She is her own woman," explains Posen.
Lena Dunham, Golden Globes 2013
When Posen was a high school student in New York City, he was Dunham's babysitter, which made dressing her for a big awards show even more special. "I wanted something that had an open neckline and a really nice, dark, rich color—something that would look nice on her body," he says. "It was a huge moment for her!"
Naomi Watts, Golden Globes 2013
Naomi Watts surprised Posen by wearing one of his designs to the Golden Globes this year. "I've zipped people into clothing, watched them drive into the distance, gone back to my hotel, turned on the TV and they were in a different dress," he says, adding that he gets so nervous to see who's wearing what that he often TiVos the red carpets. "This was the highlight of my award season dressing."
Amanda Seyfried, SAG Awards 2013
For years, Posen dreamed of dressing Amanda Seyfried and this year, he finally got his wish. "She is so beautiful and I knew she had the dress, but I wasn't there for fittings," says the designer of this gown, which he says "had a denim quality to it. She's funny, sophisticated and so beautiful. I got to meet her at the Governor's Ball at the Oscars [a few weeks later] and we went running to each other."
Jessica Chastain, Cannes Film Festival 2011
When Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain shot to the A-list for her role in "Tree of Life," she was wore a Posen dress to one of the premieres. "She came [to me] with the color. I tweaked it a little brighter and we combined two dresses. This was a custom couture piece for her," he says. "I'd been watching her for awhile because my partner and stylist had worked with her a few months before and he was blown away by her. And I'm a sucker for a redhead!"
Araya Hargate, Cannes Film Festival 2013
Before actress Araya Hargate wore this gown to the "Cleopatra" premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Posen was convinced "it was going to become a piece that would be worn much later in life, as an archive piece," he says. "I was quite sad it hadn't had a moment." Finally, that time came. "She looked amazing, and it was the perfect place for it," he says. "Cannes is great for bright colors."
Patina Miller, Tonys 2013
"Patina brought this dress to our studio to be custom fit!" he says of working with the Tony-winning "Pippin" star, who adds there wasn't much tailoring to do, because "she has such an incredible body." But the best part of working with the star was making her look and feel amazing on her big day. "I was so proud of her for winning," says Posen.
Reese Witherspoon, Golden Globes 2012
After meeting Witherspoon at an Oscar party a few years ago (and taking her for a spin around the dance floor!), Posen was honored when she wore one of his designs to the Globes last year. "It was iconic," he says of the look, which he was surprised to see her wear on the carpet. "She chose it [without my knowledge]!" he says. "That's fun, and it's exciting too, because you're less nervous."
Glenn Close, Oscars 2012
"She is iconic, powerful and the most fun to play with in fittings," gushes Posen of his "really good friend." "She has so much respect and history with fashion and costumes." Another reason he loves dressing his pal? "She's a hot woman," he says. "I hope people can see from this list that I'm a designer that embraces age, race, body type, because that's what good designs should be: a positive message for everyone. It's not about designing for a walking hanger!"
Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscars 2007
After Paltrow saw this dress, her manager and stylist asked Posen to bring it to L.A., where the actress tried it on for her mother, Blythe Danner, as her daughter Apple played nearby. "She'd been out of the limelight and we wanted to create a Veronica Lake moment," recalls Posen. "It was one of the most fun Oscar moments for me. Gwyneth gets the best of the best, so I was honored [she chose me]."
Christina Ricci, Met Ball 2011
Creating this Met Ball dress for Ricci was an emotional process, admits Posen, because that year, the event was paying tribute to his late friend, designer Alexander McQueen. "His whole story was very sad to me and upsetting and dark, so I threw myself deeply into this dress and it's an ode," he says. "I wanted to make a piece that was slightly extreme in the way that Alexander made his clothing, and something that would have made him happy at the Met." It helped that Ricci, whom Posen says "was very corset-trained" was the perfect person to wear the dress: "Christina Ricci is so iconic as Wednesday Adaams so I thought: 'What would Wednesday Adaams look like grown up?" And while the corset made her waist "mini winnie winnie," Posen says he made sure she had a second dress hidden in the hallways of the Met that she could change into.
Caroline Correa, Magnum Gold 24-K Gold Dress
"It was really sort of a lifelong dream to work with a rare, beautiful material," says Posen of crafting this gown from 24-karat gold for a Magnum ice cream short film. "I'm always aware of the intrinsic value [of couture] but to work in a material that has immediate value was really fun." Because the dress features embroidery, the whole process took three weeks. "Caroline was fabulous. She hopped into the dress and like every good performer, she was game [to do anything]," he says. "We became friends. She's very cool."