Zack Carr: One of Fashion’s Unsung Heroes

Zack Carr book 
Balenciaga and Chanel were his mentors. Among the women who inspired him, which he named “his girls” – including Romy Schneider, Isabella Rossellini, Audrey Hepburn, Tippi Hedren, Vivian Leigh, Jean Seberg, Georgia O’Keeffe and Grace Coddington – he mentioned his “imaginary women”, too. His favourite films were Jules et Jim, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, Cinema Paradiso, Blow Up, Vertigo, The Birds, Rear Window. All of the above are more than reason enough for me to like someone.

For nearly three decades, Zack Carr was the creative director of Calvin Klein. “For many years Zack Carr was inextricable in my mind from Calvin Klein. This gentle, industrious, and brilliantly creative man never searched for the limelight,” said Anna Wintour. He played a big part in the creation of the “Calvin Klein” style and his work there influenced a generation of designers and helped put America on the world fashion map. And he did all that from behind the scenes. As if I needed another reason to like the man.
Zack Carr book

Zack Carr book 
The book Zack Carr (by the way, this is one of those books you should not judge by its jacket, which I often do, and rightfully so I may add – I fail to understand the choice of a poor book jacket that hides a great cover, like in this case), authored by his brother, George Carr, with forward by Bruce Weber, sheds some light over the designer’s huge talent, his passion for and his importance in fashion. But, more than that, it is a personal scrapbook, a collection of sketches, personal writings and photographs that tell the story of a genuine artist and bigger than life person. I wish it went deeper into details, because Zack Carr’s life and accomplishments are worth telling, but I guess the author wanted to stay true to the concept of a sketchbook, which Zack considered a true expression of himself.

“Fashion, like every profession, has its unsung heroes: men and women who
create, inspire, and generally make the world a better place even if most people
have never heard of them. Zack Carr was one of those heroes. As the ultimate insider,
he had an incredible breadth of knowledge and history, which was reflected in the magnificent drawings he effortlessly produced on a daily basis. His work at Calvin
Klein influenced a generation of designers and helped give American fashion
the importance it now has. And he always conducted himself like the
Southern gentleman he was – with charm, wit, and an amazing generosity.”

Patrick McCarthy

Zack Carr book

Zack Carr book 

“I first met Zack in the very early days at Calvin Klein, where he was very much
part of that brilliant new design studio. Calvin and his team did all the clothes for me
for two films. I got to see Zack’s immense talent at work over and over again.
I think that he had a big part in the creation of the look that is “Calvin Klein”
– the elegance, the color sense, the timelessness, the modernity.
But what I think of above all, when I think of my friend Zack, is the quality
of human being he was: tremendously talented, of course, but kind and funny
and decent and humble. He was a shining star in a particular world that
so often produces ego and competitiveness before humanity.”
Ali MacGraw

photos by me from the book Zack Carr

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