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Zac Posen Ditches the Princess Gowns for Spring

Soft, subtle dresses made for an elegant yet wearable offering this season.
A look from Zac Posen's Spring 2016 collection. Photo: Imaxtree

A look from Zac Posen's Spring 2016 collection. Photo: Imaxtree

When we spoke to Zac Posen at his Brooks Brothers presentation over the weekend, he said the show for his namesake line would be "surprising." And it was, in a good way. (Though it sadly didn't involve a Caitlyn Jenner appearance.)

He said that designing for the preppy American retailer inspired him to think more about daywear within his own collection, the shows for which had become a bit predictable: You go to Zac Posen expecting a parade of enormous, show-stopping, glamorous ball gowns. But what we saw on Monday evening was much more interesting and, pardon the cliché, chic.

In a color palette of navy, black and white, Posen showed trousers and sharply tailored jackets with nothing underneath (which he somehow made look extremely classy), easy day dresses and comfy (though not terribly flattering for non-model humans) culottes, all with pointy-toed Christian Louboutin flats. Of course there was eveningwear, but his light, languid, softly-draped gowns barely made use of the very wide "runway" in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station. Instead of volume, Posen gave each dress visual interest with cool details, like bar tack stitches that lent a deconstructed feel.

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In a market where a lot of brands are doing subtle clothing very well — Calvin Klein, Victoria Beckham and The Row among them — it was risky for Posen to go in that direction, but it totally worked. It was my favorite Zac Posen collection yet, and one of the first that made me feel like I could actually wear what went down the runway. Posen will always be able to do those "va-va-voom" gowns, as he calls them, and we'll surely continue to see those on ladies like Christina Hendricks, Jennifer Hudson and Amy Schumer — who all sat in the front row — when they hit the red carpet. But it seems that Posen's Brooks Brothers gig has also taught him the importance of showing things women can wear in their day-to-day lives, and that's not a bad thing.