NEW YORK - Fashion insiders love to dress celebrities for big splashy Hollywood events, but they don't necessarily want them at their own big splashy event: New York Fashion Week.
In the spring previews that entered their fifth day Monday, there has been some departure from the approach of putting boldface names in the coveted front row seats at designer shows - and letting them steal some of the thunder from the designer.
Oscar de la Renta limited his guest list, telling Women's Wear Daily he was focusing on the people who had a real reason to be there, not "20 million people with zero connection to the clothes." Tommy Hilfiger, once a celebrity magnet, said Monday that he wanted to return the focus to fashion.
"I don't like the drama in the fashion world. I like to do our thing without the drama," he said backstage before his show.
There were still plenty of tabloid favorites - Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan have all made appearances - but they are more of a rarity than in years past, when they were invited en masse and thrown in front of paparazzi. How many people were really focused on the Herve Leger dresses on the runway Saturday when Nicki Minaj was right in front of them? (At least designer Max Azria was smart enough to put her in a new look from the spring collection.)
For the celebrities-turned-designers, it's an even more careful dance. Katie Holmes, Victoria Beckham, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have all made long-term commitments to their fashion brands, slowly and delicately courting editors, stylists and retailers, instead of the paparazzi.
Zac Posen started draping his new spring collection almost three months ago, and he was still doing it right up until the first look appeared on the runway.
It wasn't a last-minute rush - in fact, everything seemed incredibly quiet just before his show on Sunday night. It simply takes that long to hand-pleat chiffon and hand-paint organza. "Given the intensity of this collection, it has all been very calm," he said.
Posen even took a nap for almost an hour after the final sound and lighting checks, and before receiving a pep talk by phone from friend Naomi Campbell.
Models are important to Posen: Their loyalty and enthusiasm launched his career. Anyway, the elaborate gowns and dresses he is known for really need "models," not just tall, thin, pretty women. They need to have confidence and know how to pull off an outfit that, hopefully, will have everyone in the room looking right at them, he said.
Coco Rocha wore the first look on the catwalk, a pale-pink chiffon cape dress. Lindsey Wixson wore an ivory-colored bustier gown and go-to Posen muse Crystal Renn wore a lemon-colored frock with a wisteria print and fluttery short sleeves.
"This collection is very romantic," Posen said backstage. "It's beyond the va-va-voom red carpet."
Derek Lam's clothes always have a pronounced urban edge. For his Spring 2014 collection, he wanted to be playful, too.
And so while Sunday's runway show had some classic Lam elements, it also had unexpected nuances. For example, sparks of bright yellow, breaking up his usual crisp color palette of black, white and navy. An elegant yellow crepe strapless gown came in sharp contrast to the series of bold plaids, in black and white or blue and white, that began the show.
Another example: a plaid sleeveless top in black and white with an unexpectedly sexy, skin-baring crisscross back.
"It's all about being playful, and breaking expectations," Lam said in a post-show interview. "My work has always been rooted in American sportswear. So I'm just loosening it up, relaxing a bit."
There was more than big, bold graphics on display at Edun, the label founded by rocker Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson.
There was also the debut of a new designer - Danielle Sherman - and a front row where Bono and Hewson were joined by Trudie Styler, Gina Gershon and Christy Turlington Burns.
Designer Sherman, who joined the label in April, seemed relieved after the show Sunday evening in a Chelsea gallery space, remarking with a smile that it had been "a lot of work."
The collection was heavy on black-and-white pieces in bold geometric prints: skirts, coats, roomy pants and short tanks over longer, flowing tops. There were also some large, soft gray sweaters, sportswear in bright orange and leather pieces in white, black and a rich cayenne color. A soft white trench looked silky enough to sleep in.
Edun was founded in 2005 by Bono and Hewson to promote change through a trading relationship with Africa. Many of its garments are traditionally produced in Africa or made from fabrics sourced there.