Olsens vs. Beckham vs. Holmes: Which Star’s Winning Fashion Week?

Elizabeth Durand
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Having celebrities in your front row is so last year — at least, that's what many celebrities-turned-designers seem to think. Stars like Katie Holmes, the Olsen twins, and Victoria Beckham not only kept their guest lists tight (and shut most media out), but also neglected to invite their famous friends.

For her show, Holmes — who comprises one half of the design team behind the label Holmes & Yang — invited only a few dozen top editors and zero photographers. That's right: zero. The actress and Jeanne Yang allowed one house cameraman and that was it. When you compare this to the swarm of flashing bulbs in the tents, it becomes clear that Katie, a favorite of the tabloids, is actively trying to bypass the paparazzi element of fashion week.

[Related: Celebs at New York Fashion Week (Photos)]

She also opted to show in a Chelsea gallery adjacent to New York's historic Garment District. When the Times Union asked about her choice of venue, Holmes quipped, "It's in my neighborhood. We walked here." Basically, she's wisely keeping things casual so the focus is on the clothes, not the people who came to see them.

And she's not the only A-lister trying to keep a low profile. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen also skipped over the tents in favorite of a spot in Soho, which is even farther from fashion week's Lincoln Center hub. They showed their high-end collection, The Row, at a gallery draped in gauzy fabric, which created an otherworldly feel for an intimate group of insiders.

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Even Victoria Beckham, who happens to be one of the best-connected people on the planet (and arguably anointed Holmes into the circle of fashion's elite), opted to only include a few famous faces in her front row. Her better half, David Beckham, attended — with their adorable daughter perched on his lap — as well as super-stylist Rachel Zoe, and the inimitable Anna Wintour. Beyond those three, however, Victoria limited her crowd to industry folk whom most civilians wouldn't look at twice — unless it was to check out their shoes.

This no-celebs-allowed strategy seems to have worked out better for some star designers than others.

Reviews were mixed for Holmes & Yang. Though Holmes explained that she and Yang are "about wearing the clothes, not letting them wear you," an editor from Style.com thought it was more accurate to say that these two ladies "are content to leave the trend setting to other labels." The collection was further criticized for a lack of continuity and "razzle-dazzle." In other words, it was kind of boring. But Women's Wear Daily disagreed, arguing the collection finally "has hit its stride" and tweeting that it "featured luxe materials and astute detailing."

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Mary-Kate and Ashley, who already have a coveted CFDA award under their (tiny) belts, fared a bit better. The Huffington Post claimed that this collection single-handedly "proved that there is real innovation and craftsmanship here in New York City." That's a compliment if we ever heard one. Vogue tweeted, "Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen have a sensitive, delicate approach to fabric." And Rachel Zoe could barely contain herself, tweeting, "@therow was beyond stunning #notnormal."

It was Victoria Beckham who took top prize this go-round, however, earning praise all around. The Daily News review of her collection began, "Victoria Beckham, it seems, can do no wrong as a fashion designer" and WWD tweeted that she "provided ample chic with charming motifs and summery silhouettes." Style.com argued that while she had presented strong collections in the past, "it was the boyish tailoring of the cropped pants and the boxy tunics and vests that pushed the Victoria Beckham story forward."

So what's the takeaway from this recent crop of star designers shunning star attendees at their shows? Go for it — but not until you're sure your clothes can stand on their own.

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