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Zac Posen

Zac Posen is one of Manhattan's most popular boys-about-town—and the girls-about-town flock to him for sultry, body-hugging, thirties- and forties-inflected party frocks. The old-Hollywood glamour of his evening looks makes them a natural choice for pretty young nominees on the Other Coast, too: Natalie Portman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Beyoncé have all made the trip down the red carpet in a Posen showstopper.

With all this, it's easy to forget that Posen isn't some old hand: He was born in 1980. But he is a native New Yorker and has benefited from the support of his sophisticated Soho family (his father is a painter, his mother—now the company chairman—is a corporate attorney, and his sister, Alexandra, is his creative director). Posen won a coveted internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute (where he got a good look at the dazzling bias work of Madame Vionnet), and then headed to London to study at Central Saint Martins. In typically precocious fashion, a dress he made there was chosen to become part of the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Posen returned to New York in 2001 and almost immediately was making himself known at Gen Art's Fresh Faces show. Offers from LVMH and the Gucci Group followed, but with equally typical bravado, Posen ignored them and launched his own label. Three years later he received the Swarovski-Perry Ellis Award for Womenswear from the CFDA, and the rest, it would seem, is party-dress history.

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