Less is more. As old as the adage may be, it still rings true. Designers practiced restraint this season, sending out clothes that -- while subtle and subdued -- couldn't be more chic.

Zac Posen: A giant leap forward. We've all been waiting for Zac Posen to move past youthful, campy icon idolatry and into the more grounded type of mind-set on which long design careers flourish. With the collection he showed on Thursday evening, he finally made the leap, taking "spontaneity" as his preshow buzzword.

Apparently, Posen was referring to the clothes' newly relaxed attitude, because there was nothing spontaneous about the process that got them there. Rather, these clothes resulted from careful consideration of how to evolve his overtly glamorous point of view, beginning with a distinct effort to turn down the volume on his usual exuberance. Posen loves his details — usually tricky and plentiful — but here they came in a happy combination of give and take away. Thus, intricate cutwork and embroidery decorated simple silhouettes, which were often worked in a neutral tone-on-tone palette. When he strayed from either, as in a fussy lavender trench, it didn't work, but luckily he did so infrequently.

While 9-to-5 is hardly Posen's favorite time block, he offered plenty of pretty looks befitting a Sunday afternoon — an adorable plaid bubble dress; a button-down blouse tucked into a pleated lemony yellow silk skirt. One could even imagine wearing a sweet, plaid button-down shirt and wide khaki pants to work on Monday morning. (And a lovely white jacket with cutwork lapels over a cotton blouse and dark jeans, depending upon where you work.) But those huge hobo bags were perhaps the most obvious indicator that daylight — and a serious business savvy — is dawning chez Posen.

Of course, one can change only so much within a season. When it came to high evening, Posen couldn't resist letting it fly just a little, ending the show with two enormous gowns in silk plisse, one trussed up with puffy bows and another evoking Scarlett at Twelve Oaks, its skirt wider than the runway. Yet while these set the already-raucous crowd applauding and hooting, it was the calmer gray chiffon stunner on Gemma Ward and a pintucked red silk number that might actually make it to the best-dressed list.

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