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The night before his show, when he should be consumed with jitters, he's working the crowd at Bloomingdale's. An event in his honor on the fourth floor has not exactly been mobbed, so he takes two models down the escalators and starts introducing himself to shoppers and telling them there are free drinks on the fourth floor. Soon, the number of women looking at his clothes has swelled.
What they find is $1,200-to-$1,500 dresses that have a fresh-from-the-womb maturity. Heavily darted, they're '40s-style shapely; they flare at the hem and enhance the bust and waist. Several spring looks are constructed of thin bands of material sewn together horizontally, like belts, that can be adjusted. "I think the idea of self-tailoring is very modern," says Posen. "I want to embrace the creativity of people. Besides, all women fuss with their clothes." His pattern-making skill is almost mathematical, fitting flat geometric shapes to moving form. "My clothes are supportive and seductive," he says.
They're also well crafted and wearable, but not visionary or synthesized from personal experiences in the way one sometimes hopes from a young designer. Imitation of Christ, for all its excesses, is at least presenting an idea about fashion, one that rebuffs beauty and elegance. We expect designers to get more commercial as they get older. Marc Jacobs, made famous by grunge, sent out, for spring, unimpeachably buyable little 1960s Italian housewife cocktail dresses. Posen seems to have been born commercial.
New York City and America are very different places since last year's spring shows. But Posen's clothes haven't changed much. They're egocentric--all about themselves. In other, less hyped designers' shows, such as those of Behnaz Sarafpour, there's anevolution of thought that can be plotted. But perhaps Posen just has a youthful excess of business savvy and a desire to please, instead of rebelliousness. Maybe when he's 45,he'll be the most radical designer around. --With reporting by Benjamin Nugent