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Zac Posen is a fashion designer who became the Next Big Thing before he even had his first runway show.
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In 2004, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs became an investor in his line, and celebrity clients such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman and Claire Danes began wearing his creations on the red carpet. "It's very strong women [who wear my line]," Posen said of his customers,
"extremely confident and self-assured and powered [women]."
With his meteoric rise came an inevitable backlash. Posen was criticized for paying more attention to the social part of the fashion world than to the actual garments in his line. "He is a little bit adorable and a little bit awful," wrote one New York Times fashion critic. The economic downturn of 2008 hit his business hard, with a double-digit drop in sales. Posen responded to the rough period by tightening up the company's finances and producing Z Spoke, a less-expensive line for Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as an affordable collection for Target.
Posen's company produces three collections per year, with plans to expand into lines of signature jeans, fragrances and retail. With his notable debut now a decade behind him, Posen is looking ahead to the future. "I'm definitely planning ahead for a brand that spans the universe," Posen said, "a Zac Posen universe."
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