Zac Posen dialed the drama of his recent runway show way back for Pre-Fall. The designer remains as committed as ever to after-eight dressing, but the focus here was on cleaner shapes. Simple, though, isn't the right word for them. The bodice of a cocktail number in an over-embroidered black organza was engineered from what could've been dozens of pieces of fabric; it fit the model like a glove. A long strapless dress in amber duchesse satin, meanwhile, was constructed with just two pairs of darts, at the bust and the hips. That meant that the side seams were invisible, tucked into the folds of a train. There aren't many New York ateliers capable of that kind of workmanship, and there are even fewer designers who would bother with such a thoughtful detail.

With the Costume Institute's Charles James retrospective on the horizon, Posen made sure to showcase his gowns. A strapless style in a platinum-to-teal ombre was every inch as grand as one of James' creations, with a critical difference: lightness. The late couturier might have balked at an evening column in tropical wool men's suiting fabric, but Posen has a winner on his hands with that one, ease being a major part of its appeal. He used the same material for a smart pantsuit, a relatively rare but decidedly welcome sight chez Posen. This was a well-considered outing, one that points the way forward for his brand.