Exclusive: Zac Posen on Face Steaming, Rihanna, and His New MAC Collab
It’s been a busy few weeks for Zac Posen. After wrapping up three collections at New York Fashion Week (where his racially diverse model lineup garnered him a thunderous ovation), he headed to L.A. for the launch of his new MAC collaboration, after which he went right into the last-minute chaos of Oscars dressing. Some might deal with this by gulping coffee by the cupful, emotions haywire—not Posen. In fact, the dapper designer seemed disarmingly Zen and cheerful when I meet him at the stoic Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Ennis House, tucked in the privacy of the Hollywood Hills. When asked about who he planned on dressing for this year’s Academy Awards, he gave a little shrug and smiled. “I came out here first 15 years ago with a suitcase, not really knowing anybody, knocking on doors, and now we’ve had so many special and incredible moments that I just don’t stress about it,” he said. “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be, and if it’s not, you’ve always got next year.”
His easygoing charm and eye for sleek, flattering silhouettes have appealed to a wide audience (he replaced Michael Kors as a Project Runway judge in 2011) and earned him a stamp of approval from Hollywood elite like Naomi Watts and Rihanna (both of whom have worn his designs on the red carpet). And now, it’s earned him a makeup collection. His forest green 10-piece MAC collection not only looks luxe but also feels luxe. The lipsticks are weighty, and the shades range from soft and demure to bold and striking—not unlike the clothes Posen has designed for over 10 years. The silky formulas and rich jewel tones of his first-ever (and possibly not last) makeup collection give it all an undeniable sense of luxury. You simultaneously want to immediately apply everything and just stand back and admire it in all of its glory. Which isn’t surprising in the least—after all, it is Zac Posen.
Want to know Posen’s favorite piece in the collection? What about his oh-so-L.A. skincare secret? Keep scrolling to find out.
Courtesy of MAC
BYRDIE: Was doing a makeup line something that ever crossed your mind before?
ZAC POSEN: You bet. I waited for years to do this. I actually said no to MAC before they even started doing the designer collaborations. I waited and waited and waited until it was the right time, until I felt like there was a real clear idea that we could create the essence down of what the capsule collection would look like. Also, now, we have four years under my belt on television; I have experience actually wearing makeup on TV and knowing what that is, knowing what women want. And it’s kind of teasing what a beauty line would look like for us if we had our own line going in the future, and maybe what a fragrance would start to feel like in the future.
BYRDIE: Is this something we can look forward to? What are some of the products you love from this collab?
ZP: We’ll see. Everything from the texture of the packaging to the interior; I’m pretty wild about the brush. I did a square brush because I thought it was such a cool, kind of modern, and sensual object like that. Also, since it’s square, you can control it.
BYRDIE: How is your creative process toward creating these products similar to or different from how you approach designing a collection?
ZP: So similar. Very similar. We start with inspiration, textures, colors, feeling, mood, then it starts to evolve into what are the possibilities of the imagination within there: color palette, texture, sheens. Then, because it has to be edited, it’s like merchandising. We had 200 colors of lipstick that got developed for this, and from there, we had to choose each three. This [collection] is the red carpet essential kit for your everyday life. We have our Darling Clementine, the ultimate orange-red that is such an iconic color for us. We had developed a custom color created for the runway about two years ago, and so this is an evolution of that. Then we had a Dangerously Red, for darker skin tones to have that red, and then Sheer Madness is basically for the non-lipstick color lovers, just to give a little moisture—high moisture, high polish, and a little sheen—and that can be layered over the two other colors to give shimmer. Then the Ultimate Eyeliner Pen that is controllable and timeless and has a good felt tip. I’m interested in promoting and supporting women’s own creativity, and that’s what I think makeup has the ability to do. I love our Invisible HD Ready powder. This is essential. That just gives a really beautiful matte finish that is transparent. It’s the product I use on myself.
BYRDIE: Where there any specific muses you had while developing this collection?
ZP: There are so many incredible women I’ve been able to work with that are actually really good friends. I was definitely thinking about Demi [Moore] and Uma [Thurman] and Katie [Holmes], and elements of what Dita [Von Teese] represented to our brand, or Rihanna. When Rihanna comes to our fashion shows and has her more ladylike elegant moments, I love that, and I know that side of her.
BYRDIE: What, in your opinion, makes a woman beautiful?
ZP: A sense of confidence. To me, what’s beautiful is intelligence, people who continue to be open enough and continue learning, people who take the risk to put themselves out there. You’ve got to take risks and I really believe in self-invention. That’s the time we’re living in.
BYRDIE: If there was one woman in the world you would give the entire collection to, who would it be?
ZP: Wow, that is such a hard question! I hope I haven’t met her yet. I hope I’m going to discover her on Instagram, so share the pictures of you and the MAC x Zac Posen collection and tag #ZacMAC, and maybe we’re going to discover the newest face of our next project.
BYRDIE: Have you discovered people on Instagram before?
ZP: You bet I have. Of course!
BYRDIE: Do you find your creative inspiration from places like that?
ZP: Sometimes from social media, absolutely. I love the educational and creative dialogue that is happening right now in the world. I would love to kick off the nastiness of it too; that’s unnecessary and it’s un-humanitarian actually, but beyond that, I think it’s an incredible tool.
Courtesy of MAC
BYRDIE: You have great skin. Can you want to tell us a little about your own grooming routine?
ZP: I’m so easy, but I get asked a lot—you’d be surprised. I do take good care of my skin because I do a lot of media and TV. I am picky about things. I work with one makeup artist, and I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but when you do film and are on hot lights, you need a little bit, and part of my role is being the face of my company and a performer. I use a face oil. Water, drinking water. H2O is really the beauty secret. And I use non-glycerin-based face wash.
BYRDIE: Oh, why non-glycerin?
ZP: Because I think that it can clog your pores. I live in a house that is deeply beauty. My partner knows more.
BYRDIE: What’s one tip that you learned from him?
ZP: Well, I do facial steams, I do oxygen, I exfoliate. I get facials—it helps me after a whole season of Project Runway to cleanse out the makeup that gets soaked in. The other beauty secret is drinking a little bit of chlorophyll in your water. It’s a pretty color, too. It’s a nice green. Oxygenation is really important for moisture. Continuous moisture is also really important. Sometimes if it’s really deep winter, I use MD Forte cream. That’s a great cream.
BYRDIE: What product do you think is going to sell out first in your collection?
ZP: That’s hard to say. I don’t have one favorite. I know personally I’m going to use the invisible powder, and I think our Darling Clementine is a hit. That seems to be the favorite one.
Keep scrolling to shop all the products in Zac Posen’s MAC collaboration!