Zac Posen On Ice Cream, Indulgence, And Designing A 24K Gold Dress

Zac Posen is no stranger to being called fashion’s golden boy, so it’s only fitting that he would be the one tapped to design a dress made of the precious stuff for Magnum Ice Cream’s new vanilla bean and salted caramel Gold?! bar. The gown made its debut last night at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Magnum’s short film, As Good As Gold, starring Caroline Correa and True Blood’s Joe Manganiello, but before the big launch, we sat down with the designer to learn more about the $1.5 million (!) gown, get the lowdown on what it was like to work alongside TV’s hottest werewolf, and find out what Posen considers to be his biggest indulgence (hint: his answer is pretty great).

The collaboration marks the company’s third foray into the fashion sphere, having previously partnered with Karl Lagerfeld on a series of ads starring Rachel Bilson and Alice + Olivia’s Stacey Bendet on miniskirts to pair with their mini bars. As magpies and salted caramel aficionados ourselves, however, we think this latest collaboration may be their sweetest yet.

How did the collaboration come about?

Magnum came to me and they said they were launching a new ice cream bar called Magnum Gold, so that’s how it started. And then an ice cream bar appeared on my desk. They wanted a dress inspired by Magnum Gold, and I love food, I love desserts, and I wanted to try to interpret the experience of eating the ice cream. So the first take-away was that it was a gold ice cream bar, which was so fun and cool. It felt luxurious, with the chocolate crunch and the smooth ice cream inside; the melting of it. I wanted to create something that felt like liquid gold — the ultimate glamour gown. And also do something that was priceless and rare and sensual like the experience of eating the ice cream.

What does your moodboard look like for a dress like this? Are there photos of ice cream all over your walls?

We started with trying to figure out how we were going to assemble a gold dress — whether it was going to actually be this gold fabric that I had once seen in a vault in Cuomo after my second collection. I was part of a project that Franca Sozzani hosted where we got to go to all the great mills of Italy. It was in one of those mills that I saw this gold fabric, so first I searched for that, since I had this sort of Rumpelstiltskin thing in my head of this roll of gold fabric. And then we started wanting to work with paillettes and sequining because I thought it would work better on camera, with the liquid quality echoing the drippiness of melting ice cream and the texture of molten gold. So we started to create 24 karat gold paillettes — not, obviously, out of solid gold since it would be way too heavy to wear — but we used very thin sheets of 24 karat gold leaf, which we then laid on the paillettes. And we hand cut all of the different scales, trying to go from a larger scale, which you can see at the bottom, up into different scales that highlighted the body. Something that just felt very straight-forward and iconic that highlighted a woman’s body, just like I try to do in our collections

How long did it all take to put together?
It was about a month to just sew all the sequins on, and then we had the couture fittings and re-placing them, so the whole thing took about two months. Plus, I’m a perfectionist so once we had the fittings with Caroline, we started tweaking and fixing things to highlight her body. Underneath there’s a serious couture structure, even though it looks like a bias moving dress. And it’s priceless. It’s fun to work with such a historic, rarified material as gold. Something that has changed the course of the world.

Were you a fan of Joe [Manganiello] before the film?

I’ve seen episodes of True Blood, definitely. I’ve also been friends with Anna Paquin a long time and my mom loves the show. He was amazing. He was such a gentleman. He was so tall, like this Roman warrior.

You’re so busy right now with your new line and Project Runway! When did you find time to shoot the film?

Well it was a full day shoot in LA. I had just come back from Oscars week and then flew right back to California. But I love working on a collaborative set and that kind of experience. It’s like my studio — you all work together, the trust is there. You get an amazing, fun project, and you just have to push yourself as a creative person — as an artist, as a writer — and do things that might be out of your comfort zone.

What would you say is your biggest indulgence?

Food is a huge indulgence for me. I love to eat well. If I look at my receipts, food is it. I love wonderful food; I love best in class Japanese cuisine, premium ingredients. And making my own custom suits. Also, even though I think that I was destined and it was my purpose in life, the fact that I’m able to follow my creative dream and work every day, I feel like it’s an honor and in the world we live in, that itself is an indulgence. Fashion and beauty I don’t think are the most important things in life, but I think creativity is, and I’m able to continuously create. I feel very lucky and indulged by the talent and collaboration of the people I work with every day.

See below for a look at the short film, although we warn you: it may cause uncontrollable ice cream cravings. And for more on Magnum’s past collaborations, check out our Q + A with Stacey Bendet and this glorious photo of Karl posing with a chocolate Baptiste Giabiconi. Enjoy!

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