04/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

New York Fashion Week Fall 2010: Zac Posen, Carolina Herrera, Thom Browne, Zero + Maria Cornejo

Carolina Herrera
Daywear is a term not oft heard to describe Carolina Herrera, but in her show Monday she delivered a commanding lineup of ultrachic shirt-and-pants combos inspired, as it would seem, by herself (it is her go-to uniform, after all). This was a return to Herrera at its best: colorful expressions of joie de vivre for both day and night dressing, with just enough of that highbrow attitude that comes with the esteemed label. Everything was just a notch above ideal, providing for an overall look that was flamboyant yet decidedly ladylike. Herrera's use of color for fall is to be particularly applauded. The Prussian blues, deep reds and okra floral prints will provide for a cheery outlook come fall while degradé Prince of Wales and mohair windowpane wool separates ramp up the necessary masculine feel. If anything truly makes a Herrera statement, that would be the gowns. And what a beautiful lineup she presented. A pewter herringbone lame embroidered off the shoulder long sleeve gown was breathtaking--a departure for Herrera, admittedly--and nicely counterbalanced with such trademark signatures as the red-and-black dotted silk jacquared strapless gown or the grey and blue variations. All in all, lavish and opulence may be taboo words in these economic times, but they continue to feel right at home in the world of Carolina Herrera.

Thom Browne
Oh Thom Browne, what will you think of next? From shrunken proportions to overtly in-your-face, the avant-garde menswear designer (whose Black Fleece line with Brooks Brothers is considered a more approachable take) is making the most of his recent cash infusion from Cross Company of Japan. Witness his fall show. Shown in the luxurious spaces of the Park Avenue Armory, a disquieting silence befell much of the show prior to its start. Anxious? Queasy? Why, pray tell? Perhaps it was a sign of what was to come. "I wanted to make people think," Browne said rather cryptically. "Working with the [venue] space, I just needed things to be bigger, more masculine." To wit, the hulking dimensions were approached head-on in all directions--with width and length of greatest note. A gym bag that could easily have fit a front-row guest, industrial strength (and sized) zippers, signature cropped trousers cut wide across the front, jackets elongated but with a smattering of size-appropriate coats, Browne's signature red, white and blue elements were omnipresent. Raccoon tails as decorative fringe, meanwhile, added the very dose of irony that Browne so perfectly provides.

Zac Posen
Having fallen under some scrutiny as of late and held as the poster child for young extravagance, Zac Posen has, in recent seasons, been attempting an about-turn to, if for anything else, stay afloat. In the collection he showed Monday morning, which was accompanied by a beautiful live performance by Miri Ben-Ari (some things shouldn't change, right?), Posen nicely reminded the industry why he's Zac Posen. Call him "Zac lite." It was a well-edited lineup of daywear and cocktail, with an emphasis on tailoring and linear proportions. Posen has always had a knack for sportswear; his earthy toned blazers, turtlenecks and skirts made front and center again what had previously been lost in the shuffle. Aside from flirty, fitted and floral-print cocktail numbers, Posen's former opulent gowns were noticeably M.I.A. But with a Z Spoke secondary line and a collection for Target both debuting this spring, Posen's clearly on a new trajectory. He's not dumbing down his luxe appeal, mind you; he's tackling it head-on with chutzpah for the ultimate revenge: survival.

Zero + Maria Cornejo
Maria Cornejo managed to, as the expression goes, kill two birds with stone. In her serene fall collection shown Monday, the designer melded women's and men's in true union--infusing her English background of haberdashery throughout. The women's lineup was, in particular, architectural, reinforcing the notion set forth by her show invitation: a self-photographed shadow. The African tribal moments juxtaposed strongly with the menswear, which was typically androgynous and featured a contrast in tailoring best exemplified by a waistcoast worn under a giant hand-knitted alpaca jacket.