“Oh my god, this is amazing!’ exclaims Zac Posen as he bites into a Mr. Big chocolate bar. “We don’t have these in the states. Sandy, I can’t believe you never brought me one of these!” Zac yells across the room. “Wait until you try ketchup chips!” replies Sandy Chronopoulos, director of House of Z and Supervising Producer of Lifestyle and Entertainment for Rogers Media.
Sitting at opposite ends of the lavish Bedford suite at the Park Hyatt hotel in downtown Toronto, the pair seem totally relaxed, despite the Canadian premiere of their new documentary at the Hot Docs Festival being only hours away. “It’s a film about paradoxes and the dark side of fashion – it’s not all glamour and fame,” Zac tells Hello! taking another bite of the Mr. Big chocolate bar. “It shatters the illusions – the myths, the lies, the legends – that have surrounded me and my career. It can be hard to abandon the smoke and mirrors, but if you want to make a film about the creative process, you have to be honest.”
With frank honesty, the film chronicles Zac’s meteoric rise to fame as well as the negative press, public backlash and family strife that came with living and working in the spotlight. “Zac was catapulted into the limelight at such a young age and he was put through the ringer,” Sandy says. “It’s a story about triumphs, failures and determination to succeed. Everyone fails, but it’s what you do with those experiences that can inspire people.”
The film, which marks Sandy’s directorial debut, originally began as a television special that was meant to focus on the creation of one collection. “It was about a month into the filming when I knew there was a greater story here,” says Sandy, recalling the moment she asked Zac if he would be open to creating a feature film. “It took a lot of trust for him to open up to me and let me tell his story.”
Memorable moments in the film include heart-wrenching and candid conversations between Zac and his close-knit family as well as with industry-insiders like André Leon Talley, supermodels like Naomi Campbell and celebrities like Claire Danes. “It’s extraordinarily emotional to relive these moments,” says Zac. “But my journey informed who I am as a designer today. This is the type of film I wish I could have watched when I was starting out. It’s important to see the process behind the gown you see on the runway.”
Though House of Z is rooted in realism, the glitz and glamour that’s become synonymous with Zac’s brand remains the source of constant inspiration. “Glamour and elegance are the two things I think every woman should aspire to,” says Zac thoughtfully. “Everything is so fast, so disposable, so thrown together – no one appreciates quality. Now, more than ever, I think it’s important to celebrate craftsmanship, artistry and what it is to live a creative life.”