Zac Posen: " 'Vogue' Cut Off the Arms of a Chair to Make Claire's Dining Experience More Enjoyable"
The designer talks about Danes' OTT Met Ball gown — with twinkling LED lights — that required a minibus and special seating.
On fashion’s biggest night, Claire Danes’ voluminous LED-lit dress by Zac Posen stole the spotlight. The NYC-based designer described his custom dove gray “Galactic Cinderella” creation that Homeland’s leading lady wore to the Met Ball as “technology meets fantasy.” It’s not surprising that Posen, who has a history of taking on tech projects, including last year’s twinkling Google Made With Code dress that Lupita Nyong’o wore while promoting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fully embraced this year’s “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” theme. Here, the designer talks about special seating arrangements made for Danes' dress; Cinderella memes on social media; and where the dress will live happily ever after.
Pret-a-Reporter: What was the inspiration for Claire Danes' "Galactic Cinderella" gown?
Zac Posen: The Met Ball theme and my imagination. I usually come into the office on the weekend, since it’s calmer, and blast my music — it was Hamilton — and focus on draping new shapes and forms.
Did Claire offer any creative input?
Claire is a really good friend, so it was special to share this night with her. We have known each other since ’97, when we lived a few blocks away from each other in SoHo. The entire process was seamless — we only had two fittings. I was empowered, but totally had her trust while designing the dress. Claire has a modern-dance background, so she understood the performance aspect of it … despite that fact that she hadn’t previously worn such a big ball gown.
How long did it take you to create the dress?
My design process always starts with draping — it’s how I sculpt my dresses. I started draping a month before. We researched the fabric and had it custom-made in France, but we didn't actually receive the material until two weeks before the Met. I started draping with another fabric that had similar properties and qualities. We built an under-structure with 30 battery packs sewn into the side to power the LED lights that were illuminating the fiber-optic woven organza — it took over 500 hours total.
Was the dress heavy?
No, the under-structure is hollow, which makes it much lighter. It was easy for Claire to glide in the gown and to maneuver it throughout the evening.
Claire joked on the red carpet that she needed her own car to get to the Met Ball. Just how voluminous was the train on her dress?
Very voluminous! We wanted to make sure it wasn't going to crease the fabric [while she was sitting in the car], which is why we rented a minibus for the ride there. Though it is possible to sit in the dress, Vogue actually cut off the arms of one of the chairs and turned it into a stool to make Claire’s dining experience more enjoyable.
Were you flattered by all of the comparisons made to Cinderella on social media?
Absolutely! I want to make people dream — it is part of my job — using fantasy and glamour to make people tap into their imagination.
Where’s the dress going to live now?
Currently, it’s in our showroom, but we have already received requests for her to travel around the globe.