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Designer and Project Runway judge Zac Posen, who signed on as creative director of Brooks Brothers last year, debuted his first-ever collection for the iconic American brand at a presentation at the brand’s New York flagship store Saturday.
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The marriage of Brooks Brothers’ grosgrain-ribbon brand of preppiness with Posen’s youthful, sexy aesthetic is obviously a match made in fashion heaven. The charming, wearable collection was full of easy, ‘70s-inspired separates and accessories like flared, cuffed cotton-twill pants and tidy little bucket hats; bold prints (think huge, bright red flowers); and what Posen calls “pajama glamour” — matching printed tops and boxy, cropped bottoms.
A host of glamorous style icons and imagery informed the first collection, says Posen, who cites C. Z. Guest, Mary Tyler Moore and the sun-kissed photos of classic society life by Slim Aarons as inspirations. The line’s vibe is very Palm Springs-meets-The Hamptons, and the designer concedes that “it’s about all of those locations — and it’s for a professional woman and a professional mom.”
Posen says reimagining the brand in a way that felt organic to both him and the label was not as challenging as he expected it to be. “When I started, all the heritage was here — we own the American look,” he explains. “For me, Brooks Brothers started as a carriage business, which meant we used the best-possible-quality fabrics to create clothing. I wanted to bring that back and make higher-quality products at a competitive price.”
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And, he promises, “No themes! I’m not using any themes in this line. I feel like effortless American style is themeless — it’s just elegant and has a great ease to it.”
Posen, who’s a witty voice of reason on Project Runway, characterizes his role on the show as the natural evolution of a lifetime spent mentoring young designers.
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“I’ve been teaching forever,” he says. “I’ve taught or [lectured] at Harvard, Stanford, FIT — what I do is about giving back. Of course on TV, it’s a different thing. I try to be straight up and real with the Project Runway designers. But I do have a heart. It’s a very emotional thing, showing your work to the world.”
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