Zac Posen is nothing if not a showman. For Fall, he enlisted the 5 Browns—a brother and sister piano troupe—to play on five Steinways arrayed down the middle of the runway, and he sent out a collection of forties-inflected Victoriana. "They were both times of sculpting clothing," he said a few days before his show. Focusing mostly on dresses, sculpt is what Posen did: grand Joan Crawford shoulders, pouf sleeves, ruffles at the hips, and great swags of fabric pooling on the floor at the models' feet—in notice-me fabrics like metallic jacquards, violet moiré silk, double-layer floral prints, and a gingersnap plaid.

Off-key? Many would say so. Posen has had some fabulous red-carpet successes lately, most notably Kate Winslet in a figure-hugging black floor-length number at the BAFTAs. There was a time in the not too distant past when he put that kind of attainable glamour on his catwalk. But too often these days he errs on the side of melodrama. That said, there were some appealing pieces. Alek Wek's gray wool cap-sleeved day sheath and a Venetian blue silk gown with a draped bodice and a bare back both struck the right note.