Zac Posen is entering the make-or-break stage of his career. Is the fortunate 22-year-old just a savvy dilettante whose well-connected friends are happy to wear his offbeat clothes? Or is he truly a major talent, flowering at an enviably early age? New York is hungry for a new star, and the designer’s hype machine has been running full tilt. Produced by fashion's power-PR company, KCD, Posen's show featured hot models (including a rare appearance by Naomi Campbell) and an even hotter front row (Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore).

But onto the clothes. Posen's chosen aesthetic is ’40s Hollywood, exaggerated and punked-up. He loves to bind the female figure with sculpted strips of cloth that form angular patterns, often with a three-dimensional flourish, at the shoulders and neck. In his fall show, that treatment bordered on camp, but the designer wisely toned it down for spring. The siren dresses aimed at his fabulous friends were still in evidence, but so were soft skirts and pretty printed chiffon blouses, which were clearly meant to send a signal to all the big-league retailers sitting in the front row. Only time will tell whether the designer can continue this evolution, or whether he's a one-trick Posen.