How We Met: Poppy de Villeneuve & Zac Posen

'You could throw her out of a plane with a parachute and she would fit in wherever she landed'

Poppy de Villeneuve, 29, is a photographer. The daughter of Justin de Villeneuve – the 1960s fashion photographer who discovered Twiggy – and the model Jan de Villeneuve, she studied photography at the London College of Printing and has worked for publications including Vogue and Dazed & Confused. She lives in New York

I met Zac in London while he was over from New York, studying at St Martins. He was a guest at a friend's dinner party and we clicked instantly. We've always felt very familiar with each other; I'm not sure why. He wasn't happy in his apartment, so he'd stay at my place all the time. It was a big, crumbling house on Portobello Road owned by an eccentric old hippy and it was always full of people so it was a very fun, quite mad time.

We went through a phase where he'd build dresses on me or I'd take pictures of my sister Daisy in his clothes and we'd go out to the fields at night to do shoots. He did this amazing project for college where he made an equestrian dress that was supposed to be worn by a model on a horse, but we put our friend Lucy in it and photographed her in Wormwood Scrubs at midnight, running around with our flashlights. With Zac, I've always felt like I can be a little kid and I really like that.

He didn't finish his course at St Martins, as he missed New York and felt ready to get back there to set up his business. I think it was a wise move. I'm not surprised by Zac's success at all, as he has always been so focused, but I am surprised by how well he has dealt with it. Being famous in your twenties is not easy. He has such a public persona here in the US now, but he really hasn't changed.

I moved to New York two-and-a-half years ago and having Zac here was important to me. It's such a full-on city that you need solid friends. I spent Thanksgiving at his parents' house and when I broke up with my boyfriend, he was one of the people I spoke to a lot.

I find it funny when people recognise him. We were having lunch the other day and people were coming up to say hello. He has a whole look, though, which makes him stand out – he has this tight, curly black hair like a Greek god and he often wears a neckerchief or fur. Sometimes he'll dress me up in some strange outfit too.

If Zac needs a lady on his arm for a big event, he often takes me along, which is nice, as those things are fun but kind of silly. In the industries we work in, people often tell you what you want to hear. We don't do that – we're not trying to impress or judging each other. We can just be ourselves.

Zac Posen, 28, is a fashion designer who shows at New York Fashion Week. He founded his eponymous label at 21; his clothing is a firm favourite with stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman and Lucy Liu. He lives in New York

She will kill me for saying this, but Poppy is the girl other girls would die to be – a cross between Lee Miller and Winona Ryder; very elegant but also a lot of fun. I met her in 1998 at a glamorous luncheon party in Shepherd's Bush. I'd heard lots of good things about her from friends who had crossed her path on visits to London and we realised instantly that we shared a lot of interests and ideas on art and fashion.

I was lonely in London and Poppy really took me in. It was a very maternal relationship. She was living in this amazing punk-rock-meets-Tim-Burton house on Portobello Road, which everybody seemed to have passed through, from cultural icons to royalty. It seemed like a cast of characters right out of Dickens. Her mother Jan is American, so I spent my first Thanksgiving in England at their family house in Sussex and found a second family.

Poppy and I have a rare understanding that comes from both having artists as parents – my dad is a painter and her father is a fashion photographer who basically invented the look of the 1960s. We both know what it is like to grow up in the shadow of someone else and how you have to struggle to find your voice.

She is the first photographer I worked with and it's a delight for me to see her work progress. She once photographed me in her mother's cape and riding hat in a graveyard at night, probably in my full Freddie Mercury make-up, which was quite fun. She has this duality in her personality and in her work – a very serious, focused side balanced by a very light, humorous aspect.

I think it was quite challenging for Poppy to move to New York, but I have always been here to protect her. She doesn't need it, though – now she is a fully integrated New Yorker. You could throw her out of a plane with a parachute and she would fit in wherever she happened to land. She is quite the little master socially but it's nothing calculated, she just loves people.

I love dressing Poppy. She introduced me to pieces her mother had by designers such as Ossie Clark and Bill Gibb, which have become very influential on my work since.

We are very hard critics of each other's work, but we can be honest, as there is also a great trust and understanding between us. I think we are so close because we are both still just little kids at heart. Maybe when we grow up we'll get married. n

You Are Everywhere – New Photography by Poppy de Villeneuve is at the Gallery, Soho Grand Hotel, 310 West Broadway, New York (, from Wednesday to 2 September

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments