The terrace of Avery Fisher Hall as dusk descended over Lincoln Center was the grand setting Zac Posen chose for his return to New York fashion week. The designer famously left his hometown for the City of Light a year ago, declaring, in so many words, that a Paris audience would understand his clothes better. That turned out not to be the case. But this prodigal-son story has a happy ending. He neither overplayed nor tempered his creative instincts today, as he had in his first and second seasons, respectively, in Paris. On the contrary: The well-executed dresses and gowns he put on his runway tonight reminded some in the audience of the designer's early-aughts glory days.

Posen focused on cut and fit—the more precise, the better. If corsets aren't your friends, ladies, this designer is not the man for you. With the accent firmly on the waist, he paired narrow, elongated jackets with high armholes with pencil skirts, and whipped up party dresses with flaring, knee-length hems. Some of his jackets read a bit too Old Hollywood, and a couple of the gowns were too hobbling, but young Hollywood will be charmed by a lot of what was on display here. Among the mermaid gowns, a midnight blue cord-embroidered sleeveless top and matching evening skirt stood out for the way the look said, "I'm an ingenue," rather than, "I'm a diva." We all know Posen can bring the drama; insouciance could turn out to be a growth market for him.