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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'