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October 5, 2009 2:48 PM

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Design and Food With Posen and Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson and Zac Posen. I recently spent an afternoon with Marcus Samuelsson and Zac Posen in Samuelsson's Harlem apartment. The two were cooking a late lunch together as a sort of dry run for the dinner they'll be...

Marcus Samuelsson and Zac Posen.
I recently spent an afternoon with Marcus Samuelsson and Zac Posen in Samuelsson's Harlem apartment. The two were cooking a late lunch together as a sort of dry run for the dinner they'll be making with Giada De Laurentiis on Saturday as part of the New York City Food & Wine Festival. (Ticket sales from the event will benefit hunger relief organizations Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength.)

We got to talking about the similarities between the food and fashion worlds -- how everything is rooted in the visual, why it's important to start with good ingredients and good fabrics and how both disciplines unify form and function.

But what got the guys most heated was the topic of Paris. Posen mentioned he'd shown his collection there once and described the experience as quite stressful. Here's how the conversation continued.


Zac Posen: "They're really snotty in France. But they get my collection."

Marcus Samuelsson: "Then how do they accept -- "

Z.P.: "They accept me. They're really ultrasnotty snots. The way they saw American designers was with the rise of the American socialite and the rise of the celebrity magazines. I started and then from me there was a whole bunch of younger designers. It created a new industry. They do respect the craft, but it is still challenging."

M.S.: "I get it."

Z.P.: "Listen, I'm not worried because I have real confidence."

M.S.: "You're young, so you're going up against people that have been doing it 30, 40 years and it's like..."

Z.P.: "You're in high competition with them. Yeah, they're very snotty in France with American fashion. And there are very few American designers who successfully left the U.S. and went to Europe."

M.S.: "It's very similar to food, the acceptance is always the Europeans coming this way and not the other. When I was in cooking school I'm like, 'How come France has the license to be right on everything?' My teachers were like, 'Don't ask those questions.'"

Z.P.: "They have great ingredients, and I know in my industry they have incredible sewers and patternmakers."

M.S.: "But that's what America taught me. There's space enough for all of us."


To view Zac Posen's most recent collection, click here >>
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