Half the point of a Zac Posen show is the spectacle. This time around he took over Grand Central’s grand Vanderbilt Hall (thankfully, on a holiday, or imagine the commuter outrage), then added an appearance by a positively ladylike-looking Rihanna (where’s the fun in that?). The show closed with Posen and Naomi Campbell doing their best prom king and queen walk up and down the entire length of the runway. It was a little bit like watching an amusing movie about fashion.

Except that somewhere amongst all that, there were some pretty good-looking clothes that showed Posen is thinking about the business and the red carpet. “I draped most of the clothes myself on the weekends, so it’s very personal,” he said preshow, possibly referring to the hours he keeps at his other gig as creative director at Brooks Brothers. “I wanted to find a balance between the elegance of Grace Kelly and the fierceness of Chaka Khan,” he said. So, glamour meets attitude? There was that in a cinched plum fur chubby and pencil skirt; a dandified cashmere coat, cardigan, and bonded trouser; or a snug secretary-style sweater tucked into a sequined skirt. There were also a ton of wearable day looks: swingy jersey dresses in black, plum, and orange, and those skinny pants that, if you can fit into them, make legs look perfect. And the gowns—these were obviously primed for Oscar season, especially a beautifully simple cinched column with vertical green bugle beading, and a minimalist-leaning teal jersey gown worn under a gray cashmere coat. Before the show, Posen sounded proud that he only did one ball gown, and rightfully so. Even though it was worn by the never-aging Campbell, its glitz and volume felt out of step with the lovely gowns that preceded.

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