Zac Posen with Rose Byrne at the launch party for Z Spoke

Zac Posen is positively exuberant on the February morning following the Grammy Awards. And why not? The night before, Katy Perry won raves for wearing his nude column gown splashed with gold metallic flowers, from Posen’s Spring/Summer collection, and he’s thrilled with the accolades. “We’d never worked with Katy before, and it was sort of an elegant, chic transformation for her,” Posen says.

Perry’s newfound posh was merely one reason for Posen’s high spirits. If you’ve ever admired Posen’s artful red-carpet statements in the 10 years since he founded his label, he recently made it easier to translate that aesthetic into your before-sunset lifestyle: Z Spoke, the exclusive collection he’s doing with Saks Fifth Avenue, which bowed this spring. “I felt such a strong need to create the day component, or more casual component, of the Zac Posen world,” he explains. “I felt this great need for well-designed clothes that weren’t tricky—clean shapes and then both a sense of sophistication and a trust in the idea of well-designed, exciting basics. Nothing feels too fussy.”

Indeed, Posen’s inaugural 60-piece collection for Z Spoke is equal parts playful and breezy, consisting primarily of separates priced from $78 to $675: chic little jackets over flirty dresses or paired with mid-thigh skirts or capri pants, all in a cheerful palette rooted in red, navy and emerald. “They’re for the hipster who’s grown up and has to go to work,” Posen notes. “How will she still feel cool and be in fashion?”

Since Posen loves to push boundaries with his collections, might the process have been any different when it came to A-line skirts and lightweight peacoats? “For me it’s been incredibly fun and easy,” Posen notes. “With our signature collection, which is obviously the lifeblood that drives all of us, we’re so involved in finding new constructions and pushing ourselves creatively. That’s a different conversation from wanting to cut the best-fitting trouser that a girl can wear with her boots and look four inches taller, or what is the most comfortable armhole for a T-shirt, or the flirtiest dress we can create that doesn’t look silly. The process has definitely been a fun surprise for me.”

Partnering with Saks Fifth Avenue was a strategic decision, Posen adds: “I didn’t want to be wedged into the contemporary category, which seems so oversaturated to me.” Ultimately, after a decade of red-carpet glam, how is Posen feeling about this new direction? “It’s exciting to be making clothing that’s not about being challenged artistically, creatively or by price, but how you make the easiest, most visceral clothing possible,” he says. “It also results in a really clear direction and communication for both brands. It’s been a great lesson creating this new message, something fun and different but still a part of me.”

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