OnlyOnAOL: Zac Posen spills on fashion's biggest night

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Zac Posen - From Draping to Making

By: Donna Freydkin

They're like the Oscars of fashion.

The CFDA awards spotlight design excellence in womenswear, menswear, accessories, and bestow a lifetime achievement prize.

But let's get real here. It's all about the style, and who's wearing what and going with whom. Each year, designers pick their dates. So we consulted with sartorial superstar Zac Posen, who has dressed everyone from Demi Moore to Michelle Obama and who won in 2004 (and also happens to be the women's creative director of Brooks Brothers), on the nitty-gritty of fashion's biggest night. This year, it takes place on June 6, at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

What it means: "At the end of the day it's acknowledgment from your peers. It's just such a huge honor. The CFDA is a great institution because it creates community in an extremely competitive and cutthroat industry."

What the night is like: "It's like going to your prom, or a high school reunion. It's that feeling of excitement and the same time your nerves take over. There's always a surprise. What I like about the American fashion industry is the level of diversity and how it all mixes. It's a great celebration of art and commerce."

2015 CFDA Fashion Awards - Inside ArrivalsHow the awards have changed over the years: "I've seen the awards evolve considerably. When I first got nominated in 2002, I did not win, there was a dinner and the awards ceremony afterwards. Then they cut out food altogether. At these fashion events, nerves are so high that very few people are eating the catered food. It evolved into a more typical awards show format. Now, it's so exciting that Harvey Weinstein is involved and morphing it into more of an entertainment event."

2007 CFDA Fashion Awards - Red CarpetHow he picks his companions: "I always pick my dates. Maya Thurman-Hawke is very dear to my heart. That was her first red carpet. That made it a fun experience for me. (Her mother) Uma is a very close friend of mine. I had Karen Elson when she was pregnant. I've had wonderful dates over the years. It's a great red carpet. It gets great national coverage."

2014 CFDA Fashion Awards - CocktailsHis standouts: "Greta Gerwig was one of my most favorite dates. To me, she's a great artist, one of the finest actors of our time, and has just begun. She's elegant, she doesn't play the fashion game. She's committed to her work. Natalie Portman was my date when I won the CFDA. The anticipation was high because I'd been nominated for two years in a row. The stakes were high. I was just putting my company together. I was there with Natalie, I wore an undershirt with a white jacket, with my hair slicked back. It was really special. She was so supportive. I was so nervous. I don't remember what I said."

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CFDA Awards 2015
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OnlyOnAOL: Zac Posen spills on fashion's biggest night
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Designer Victoria Beckham attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Designer Tory Burch attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Vanessa Hudgens attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Model Joan Smalls attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Designer Rachel Zoe attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Diane Kruger attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Julianna Margulies attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Amanda Seyfried attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Model Hannah Davis attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Model Liya Kebede attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen pose on the winners walk at the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Nina Dobrev attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Model Lily Aldridge attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Emmy Rossum attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Ada Kokosar attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Actress Michelle Monaghan attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Designer Cynthia Rowley and Harley Viera-Newton attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Kate King attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Janelle Monae attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Designer Prabal Gurung and Jhene Aiko attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Suvi Kopening (L) and designer Erin Fetherston attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Jemima Kirke and designer Rosie Assoulin attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Singer Pharrell Williams and designer Betsey Johnson pose on the winners walk at the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Actress Julianna Margulies (L) and designer Michael Kors attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Designer Tabitha Simmons poses on the winners walk at the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Francesca Amfitheatrof and Dree Hemingway attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Vanessa Traina Snow and Francisco Costa attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: (L-R) Shimon Ovadia, Victor Cruz, and Ariel Ovadia attend the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: Mary-Kate Olsen (L) and Ashley Olsen attend 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards Announcement Party at The Weather Room at the Top of the Rock on March 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Designer Rachel Zoe attends the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
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